Write a Motor Vehicle Accident Report

Police officers are often summoned to prepare a report following a traffic accident. However, there are occasions, such as for insurance purposes or when police aren't called, when you will need to prepare a motor vehicle accident report. You must write an objective account about what happened, where, and when. This includes providing details about the people, vehicles, physical injuries, and property damage.


Detailing the Crash Site

  1. Report when the motor vehicle accident occurred. Include the date, day of the week, and the time.
  2. Describe the natural and artificial lighting conditions at the time of the crash. State if it was daytime, dark, dusk, or dawn. Say whether there were streetlights illuminated.
  3. State the weather conditions.
  4. Report where the crash happened. Be as specific as possible. The details you can provide will depend on if the crash was in an urban or rural area.
    • Street name and block number
    • Name of the nearest cross streets, if applicable. Include how far the crash was from the intersection.
    • Address number, intersecting roadway, bridge, mile marker, exit number or other landmark
    • Name of the municipality, county, township and state where the accident occurred

Writing About the Vehicles

  1. Describe all vehicles involved in the crash. These may include cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, bicycles, or ATVs.
    • Makes, models, and years of the vehicles
    • License plate number, the issuing state, and the years
    • Where the damage occurred on the vehicle. Estimate how much it will cost to fix.
    • State if the vehicle is inoperable, drivable, or totaled.

Writing About the Drivers

  1. Include identifying and insurance information for all drivers involved.
    • Names, birth dates, and genders
    • Home addresses
    • Drivers' license numbers and issuing states
    • Drivers' insurance companies and policy numbers

Including Other Property Damage

  1. Note if there was other property damage. For example, one of the vehicles may have knocked down a street sign was knocked down or hit a homeowner's fence.
    • Include the name and address of the property owner if the damage was to private property.
  2. Estimate how much it will cost to fix.

Writing About the Injured

  1. Identify anyone who was injured in the traffic accident.
    • Name, age, and gender
    • Home address
  2. State the severity of the injury and where on the body it occurred. Note if the injured person died.
  3. Name the hospital the injured person went to. Give the name the doctor if you know it.
  4. Identify if the injured person was a driver and in what vehicle, a passenger and in what vehicle, or a pedestrian.
  5. Describe the locations of any injured pedestrians during the crash. Include if the pedestrian was in the roadway or not.
    • Detail what the pedestrian was doing. For example, the pedestrian may have been jogging on the sidewalk or playing in the street.
    • State which direction the pedestrian was traveling.

Describing What Happened

  1. Identify any witnesses to the accident. Include names, addresses, and ages.
  2. Write a detailed narrative describing the accident.
    • Assign numbers to all vehicles involved. Use those numbers when detailing what happened.
  3. Detail the actions of all drivers when the crash happened. For example, driver 1 was stopped at a red light, driver 2 was passing, and driver 3 was making a U-turn.
    • Show objectivity. Don't assign blame. Let the facts speak for themselves.
  4. Sketch a diagram of the accident.
  5. Sign and date your traffic crash report.

Sample Accident Report

This is an accident report you would file through the California Department of Motor Vehicles, so the forms in your country or state might be a little different. However, it will give you an idea of the information you should include in an accident report of your own.

Doc:Motor Vehicle Accident Report,Annotated Accident Report


  • You can get a motor vehicle accident report form and instructions from a number of sources, including your insurance company, and the local and state police. Check online for forms you can download. You may want to download a few copies and keep them in your vehicle.

Things You'll Need

  • Motor Vehicle Accident Report Form
  • Pen

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Sources and Citations