Traffic accidents in California can leave you dealing with pain from an injury and also leave you in a bit of shock after what you’ve just experienced. When injuries are stabilized and you’ve had some time to calm down, you’ll also likely have a thousand questions.
One of the most pressing issues for you could be whether the driver who caused your accident carries insurance.
In California, this is a very relevant question in any collision. The answer could decide if you’ll have to dig into your own savings for recovery costs. Can the other driver be counted on for insurance support or will you be facing hospital bills and making up your lost time at work alone?
So, how do you determine if an at-fault driver is insured after a California accident?
Determining if Another Motorist Is Insured at the Scene
When emergency responders are sent to your accident, the task of determining insurance coverage should be much easier. The response should include a local police officer, a California Highway Patrol officer, or a sheriff’s deputy.
In preparing a collision report, the officer would ask for proof of insurance from all drivers. This information should be provided to everyone involved. The officer might also discover that the other drivers don’t have insurance and would likely cite them immediately.
It’s a common misconception that other drivers are required to show you proof of insurance. This is not true, but motorists are usually willing to swap information with everyone involved.
Insurance Information After a Hit-And-Run Accident
It’s harder to get insurance information when the other driver flees the scene of your collision. However, you may still have a chance to determine car insurance status after a hit-and-run accident.
Try to remember everything about the other driver and vehicle as you can. Turning these details over to the investigating officer could allow them to identify the driver and provide you with an insurance policy number.
If your car is the target of a hit-and-run driver while you are away, do everything you can to get information to turn over to the police. Check nearby homes and businesses for a security camera that caught what happened. Also, check nearby to see if anyone witnessed the collision. This information could lead to an arrest and access to insurance injury coverage.
What to Do if an Officer Doesn’t Respond to Your California Accident
If an officer doesn’t make it to your accident scene, you may be responsible for reporting what happened. For starters, if the accident involves an injury or results in $1,000 of damage or more, you’re required to report it within 24 hours.
You’ll also need to advise California’s Department of Motor Vehicles of any accident that involves an injury, death, or property damage over $1,000. You have ten days to meet this deadline.
If an officer isn’t there to collect insurance data and the other driver doesn’t provide any proof of insurance, you may have to resort to a bit of investigative work:
- Calling Insurance Companies – Perhaps you didn’t write the other driver’s insurance policy number correctly or perhaps the driver only bothered to give you the name of the insurance provider. In some cases, this can be enough to get you started in determining their insurance status. Providing a license plate, a name, a vehicle make and model might prove enough for an insurance company to identify their policyholder. You may even have enough information to file an injury or property damage claim.
- Contact the DMV – The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) could be your last hope for locating insurance information for an at-fault driver. The DMV may choose not to help you, but they have access to every driver in the state. By providing a few details you could learn where to file your claim for damages.
What Happens When the Driver Who Hit Me Doesn’t Have Insurance?
The uninsured motorist will likely have other issues, but you can still hope to earn support with your recovery from your own insurance provider. You would file a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
In the case of a hit-and-run driver that is never identified, your uninsured motorist coverage would also apply.
Keep in mind, even though you are dealing with your own auto insurance representatives, you aren’t guaranteed to get everything you need for injury support. Your insurance adjuster will still try to limit the compensation you receive and potentially leave you with thousands of dollars in bills to pay out-of-pocket.
It’s often a smart idea to allow a personal injury lawyer to investigate your case and negotiate as much as possible for your recovery. This is true if you’re facing off against another driver’s insurance adjusters or your own.
Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer
After an accident involving a serious injury, don’t allow the insurance status of an at-fault driver to decide if you’ll receive support in recovery or not. Let a skilled California Car Accident Attorney determine the best path to getting full insurance coverage for what you’ve been through. It’s your attorney’s job to investigate at-fault drivers to find out everything possible on their driver record and their insurance status.
Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law, fights for the rights of victims and looks for ways to get clients the support they need even when the driver to blame is uninsured. Contact Maison Law for a free, no-obligation consultation on your case and find out what options are available to you and your family after an accident.