Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in Michigan?

Learn what kinds of car accidents need to be reported in Michigan, and what happens if you don't report the crash.

By , Attorney

If you get into a car accident in Michigan, do you know what steps you're required to take when it comes to making a report of the crash? Like every other state, Michigan has a law on the books that requires that most car accidents be reported. But what kinds of accidents qualify? How is the report made? What if you don't report an accident when the law requires it? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.

When Must a Car Accident Be Reported in Michigan?

In Michigan, the driver of a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident must "immediately" report the crash if it:

  • injures or kills any person, or
  • damages property to an apparent extent totaling $1,000 or more.

What about accidents involving unattended vehicles or damaged property on or alongside the road? In those situations, the driver must immediately report the collision if the driver cannot find the owner of the vehicle or locate the person who owns the damaged property.

Michigan law does not require the driver to file a written accident report. Instead, the driver must report the accident "at the nearest or most convenient police station, or to the nearest or most convenient police officer." This means that the accident should be reported in person.

What If You Don't Report a Reportable Accident In Michigan?

It is not a punishable offense in Michigan to fail to report an accident to the police, as long as the driver stops at the scene of the accident and exchanges information with the other people involved in the accident. If the driver fails to either stop and exchange information after the accident or report the accident to the police, he/she can be subject to up to 15 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, depending on the severity of the accident. Learn more: Never Flee the Scene of an Accident -- Here's Why.

More Information on Car Accidents in Michigan

For more information on the rules for reporting a car accident in Michigan, you can refer to the text of Michigan Statutes sections 257.617 to 257.622. And you'll find more state-specific information in our articles Car Accident Laws in Michigan and Michigan No-Fault Car Insurance Rules and Regulations.

Should I Report the Accident to My Automobile Insurance Company?

No state requires its drivers to report a car accident to their car insurance company. However, if you get into an accident, you would want to report that accident to your insurer so that you comply with your insurance contract.

All standard automobile insurance contracts in every state require the insured to report any accident within a reasonable period of time after the accident (like, within a day or two). If the policyholder fails to do so, the insurer may deny coverage for the accident on the grounds that the insured violated the contract.

The lesson here is that even if your car accident was minor and did not rise to the level of a "reportable accident" according to Michigan's laws, you should report it to your insurer to ensure that the insurer will provide coverage for the accident if you should need it. More: Contact Your Car Insurance Company After an Accident.

You've Reported the Accident. Now What?

Reporting a car accident may be just the first step for some drivers and passengers. If the crash caused serious injuries, or if things are getting contentious with the other driver's insurance carrier, you might want to talk to an experienced Michigan car accident lawyer to discuss your situation and your legal options.

Learn more about Steps to Take After a Car Accident and Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer.

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