What to Do If a Driver Refuses to Share Insurance Information
When you’re involved in an automobile accident, exchanging insurance information with the other driver is crucial. It facilitates communication between insurance companies and ensures that compensation for damages and injuries can be addressed appropriately. If you find yourself confronted with a situation where another driver refuses to share their insurance details after an accident they caused, taking strategic steps becomes essential in safeguarding your rights.
Know The Law – Driver’s Must Exchange Insurance Information in California
In California, knowing the legal requirements following a vehicular accident is critical. By law, drivers must provide certain information to one another at the scene of an accident under Cal. Veh. Code § 16025:
- The driver’s full name and address
- If different from the driver, the registered owner’s name and address
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Insurance company details along with policy numbers
So, what should you do if someone refuses to provide this information?
Respectfully Explain The Law To The Other Driver
If you encounter resistance when trying to obtain the other driver’s insurance information, approach the situation calmly and explain their legal obligations. Make it clear that under the law, they are required to share their details after an accident.
Communicate respectfully yet firmly that this exchange of information is a standard procedure following any vehicular incident in California.
Always Contact Law Enforcement After an Accident
It is imperative to call law enforcement right after an accident, especially if the other party refuses to share their insurance information. Having an official report from the police can be critical in proving what happened and establishing who was at fault.
Officers will document the scene and collect statements from all parties involved as well as any witnesses, which serves as important evidence should you need to file a claim with your own insurer or take legal action.
Take Photos and Write Down Information About Driver and Vehicle
Take note of as much information about the other vehicle as possible. This includes the make, model, color, and license plate number of their car. If possible, take a photo of the car and its license plate.
Additionally, write down any information about the uncooperative driver, including physical appearance, what they’re wearing, and anything else you think might be helpful if the police or insurance company need to locate them.
Speak With a California Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’ve tried calmly explaining thе lеgal obligation and still facе hesitancy or refusal from thе othеr driver, it’s timе to sееk professional advicе. Speaking with an Ontario accident attornеy vеrsеd in California traffic laws is highly advisable; thеy will guidе you on how bеst to move forward.
You can work with a skilled attornеy and possibly uncover thе othеr drivеr’s information through thеir registration or license platеs. Your car insurancе providеr may also assist in idеntifying thе rеsponsiblе party.
You May Still Be Able to File a Claim Without The Other Driver’s Information
Even without the other driver’s information immediately available, it is still possible for you to file an insurance claim. Most insurance policies include coverage for situations where the other driver is either uninsured or cannot be identified.
Penalties For Failing to Exchange Insurance Information
In California, there are penalties in place for drivers who refuse to provide insurance information after an accident. If someone refuses to give the necessary details, they’re committing an infraction and could face a $250 fine.
“(a) Every driver involved in the accident shall, unless rendered incapable, exchange with any other driver or property owner involved in the accident and present at the scene, all of the following information:(1) Driver’s name and current residence address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, and current residence address of registered owner.(2) Evidence of financial responsibility, as specified in Section 16020. If the financial responsibility of a person is a form of insurance, then that person shall supply the name and address of the insurance company and the number of the insurance policy.(b) Any person failing to comply with all of the requirements of this section is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250).”
If the driver also leaves the scene, the penalties are more severe. If the accident involved only property damage, it is categorized as a misdemeanor with potential jail time of up to six months and fines up to $1,000.
“Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
If the collision involves injuries or fatalities and the driver in question flees the scene, they may be charged with a felony. They could face severe repercussions including prison time of up to four years based on the circumstances and a fine of up to $10,000.
“If the accident described in subdivision (a) results in death or permanent, serious injury, a person who violates subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not less than 90 days nor more than one year, or by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine. However, the court, in the interests of justice and for reasons stated in the record, may reduce or eliminate the minimum imprisonment required by this paragraph.”
Contact Us If You Need Help
If you find yourself in a situation where you’re struggling with the aftermath of an accident and require assistance, especially if the other driver refuses to exchange information or flees the scene, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact Rose, Klein & Marias LLP to schedule a free consultation.