California law requires all drivers to carry valid insurance when they operate a vehicle. Coverage can vary greatly between policies, but baseline liability insurance is designed to establish a driver’s financial responsibility for any at-fault crashes.
Sadly, thousands of motorists across the Golden State drive uninsured. As such, compensation can be difficult to obtain when you become involved in a collision with someone who lacks insurance.
After a crash, one of your first priorities should be to determine whether the other party has insurance.
Exchange Driver Information At the Accident Scene
One of the most straightforward ways to determine car insurance information after a crash is to ask the driver directly at the scene.
Per the California Vehicle Code, all drivers involved in a crash are legally required to pull over and exchange information. Common practice will generally involve parties trading their names, contact information, policy number, and other relevant details.
Contact Law Enforcement
Whenever any of the following elements are true after a car crash in California, drivers are legally required to stay on the scene and call law enforcement:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage above $1,000
As such, whenever the police are called to the scene of an accident, they’ll conduct an initial investigation and submit a police report. As part of the initial investigation, officers will talk to each party involved and collect relevant details, including insurance information.
Police reports can be an excellent resource for protecting your rights and strengthening your claim.
Most reports will include the following information:
- Contact details for parties involved
- Insurance policy number
- Details about how the accident occurred
- Witness statements
- Law enforcement conclusions about fault
- Citations issued as part of the accident
Even if an accident was minimal and didn’t result in injuries, contacting law enforcement can help protect you if you suspect an at-fault driver lacks insurance.
Go Through the DMV
In cases where you could not obtain car insurance information at the scene of the accident, you may have to file a financial responsibility information request with the DMV.
Depending on the circumstances of your crash, the DMV may be able to track down the other party’s insurance details, should they be insured. As part of the records request process, you’ll have to provide as much information as possible about the driver in question and have a valid reason to file the request.
An insurance information request costs $20 to submit and may take up to 30 days to process.
Call the Insurance Company Directly
Sometimes, you may have partial information about the at-fault party, such as their license plate number, name, and insurance provider.
Even with limited contact information, you may be able to contact their insurer to ask for assistance. Often, companies can provide a policy number and additional details. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to file a claim directly with the insurance provider even if the responsible party disappears or refuses to contact you.
What Happens If the At-Fault Driver Is Uninsured?
Whenever you crash with an uninsured driver, you’ll have to contact your own insurance company and determine what relief they can provide under your policy.
In some cases, your insurance company can help compensate for bodily injuries. However, if you suffered property damage and other major losses, you may have to look for compensation through alternative means. Filing a personal injury lawsuit against an uninsured driver may be your best option for recovering losses.
Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer for Help With Your Claim
If you cannot determine the other driver’s insurance information or need help evaluating your options for compensation, contact a personal injury attorney. They’ll advise you of your legal rights and help you seek the maximum compensation available.
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.