How Do I Get Insurance Information in California if the Driver Refuses to Provide It at the Accident Scene?
Being involved in a car accident can be upsetting. When the other driver caused your accident and refuses to give you his or her auto insurance information, the experience can be even more stressful.
If another driver refuses to provide insurance information to you after an accident, it does not mean that you will be stuck paying for your auto repairs and medical expenses. While it is best if you can secure the other driver's information at the scene, you can still report the accident and file a claim. The process might require a few extra steps, but you might be able to track the driver down even if he or she refused to cooperate with you.
By working with an attorney, the state, and your car insurance company, you might be able to identify the driver and secure his or her insurance information. The insurance companies can then determine liability so that you can receive payment for your claim. Here are some frequently asked questions the attorneys at the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers often receive about what to do when an uncooperative driver refuses to exchange information with you at the scene of an accident.
Yes, all drivers who are involved in car accidents in California are required to remain at the scene of an accident and exchange information with the other involved parties. Under Cal. Veh. Code § 16025 , each driver who is involved in an accident in California must exchange the following types of information with the other motorists:
- Driver's name and address
- Registered owner's name and address if different than the driver
- Driver's license number
- Vehicle identification number
- Insurance company's name and address and the insurance policy number
Under § 16025, refusing to provide the required information to another driver after an accident is a traffic infraction. If a driver is found guilty of violating this statute, he or she will be fined $250.
If the driver refuses to exchange information and flees the scene of the accident, he or she may be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony. If the accident only resulted in property damage, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to provide information to the other driver is a misdemeanor punishable by jail up to six months and a fine up to $1,000.
When a driver flees the scene without providing information in an accident that resulted in someone's injury or death, it is a felony. If the injuries caused to the victim were not serious, a conviction will result in a prison sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $10,000. If the driver left the scene without providing information after an accident in which someone suffered serious injuries or was killed, it is a felony punishable by two to four years and a fine of up to $10,000. Finally, if the fleeing motorist was found to be intoxicated at the time, he or she will face up to five years in prison under Cal. Veh. Code 20001 .
If the other driver refuses to give you any information, take a photo of his or her license plate, vehicle model, and make. You should also write down a description of the other driver if possible. Having this type of information can be helpful later in tracking down the motorist if he or she decides to flee.
Call 911 and report your accident. Ask the dispatcher to send the police to the scene, and let them know that the other driver is refusing to provide you with any information. While you wait, take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and any relevant details from the accident scene. Get the names and contact information of anyone who saw what happened, and encourage them to wait for the police and provide statements. Finally, if anyone is injured, provide first aid until help arrives.
In some cities in California, including Los Angeles, the police might be reluctant to come to the accident scene when they do not believe that the collision was serious. Police departments might do this when the officers are busy dealing with other types of calls. If this happens to you, it does not mean that you will be left without the ability to track down the other driver's insurance company. Instead, you will have to go through the state to report your accident and find the other driver's information.
You should also report what happened to your insurance company. Your company will then work to identify the driver and his or her insurance company to subrogate your claim.
All motorists who are involved in accidents in California must file an accident report with the state whenever someone is injured or killed or when property damage costing $1,000 or more has occurred. To report your accident to the state, you must fill out and submit Form SR-1 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. This form must be completed and submitted within 10 days of your accident. You can file this report online here .
Once you have completed Form SR-1, you can then request the insurance information of the other driver from the DMV by completing Form SR-19c . Filing this form also allows you to request a certificate that a driver is uninsured. You can find the form online here . You will then need to present either the information about the insurance on file for the driver or the certificate of no insurance to your insurance company. If the other driver is insured, your insurance company will contact the other motorist's insurance company to secure coverage for your claim.
If you learn that the other driver was uninsured, you will need to submit your claim to your own insurance company. If you have collision coverage, this means that your policy should cover your damage after you pay your deductible. If the other driver does have insurance, your company can subrogate your claim and try to recover money for the accident from the company, including your deductible.
While all motorists in California are required to carry at least the state's minimum liability policy limits, some motorists drive without insurance. Car accidents can also cause injuries and other losses that far exceed the state's minimum liability policy requirements. If you learn the other driver was underinsured, this could mean that you might not receive enough compensation to cover all of your losses through that driver's policy.
It is a good idea to purchase UM/UIM coverage on your auto insurance policy. This additional coverage kicks in when you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Since so many people drive without insurance, it is a good idea for you to buy this type of coverage. You will submit your claim to your insurance company under your UM/UIM policy to recover compensation for your losses up to the policy limits.
There are several reasons why a driver might refuse to provide information to another driver at the scene of an accident and leave the scene, including the following:
- The driver is uninsured.
- The driver is impaired.
- The driver has a revoked or suspended license.
- The driver already has too many accidents on his or her driving record.
- The driver is driving a stolen vehicle.
- The driver is driving someone else's car without his or her permission.
- The driver's insurance premiums are high because of previous violations and accidents.
- The driver has warrants out for his or her arrest.
Regardless of the reason why a driver might refuse to provide information to you at the accident scene, it is still possible to hold him or her liable to pay damages for your losses.
If your vehicle was hit by an uncooperative driver, it does not necessarily mean that you will be stuck paying for all of the bills. If you suffered injuries in an accident caused by a driver who refused to provide you with information and left the scene, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles at the Steven M. Sweat Personal Injury Lawyers. We can help you to file the necessary reports and work to track down the other driver's insurance information. We can also investigate to identify other potential sources of recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 866-966-5240.