Approximately one in seven California drivers is uninsured, according to estimates from the California Department of Transportation. This means that even drivers who are properly insured themselves run a very real chance of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver in California. In the event that this should happen to you, it is in your best interest to be prepared and know what steps to take after the crash.
Call the Police
One of the first things to do after any traffic accident, after seeking medical help for anyone who is seriously injured, is to call the police. This is a good idea after any car accident, and is especially important if you are in a crash with an uninsured driver. A police report provides important evidence of the crash and can make a big difference for your chances of success in any related insurance claim or lawsuit.
Trade Information with the Other Driver
While you wait for the police to arrive, you should exchange information with the other driver. Try to get as much information as you can about the other driver and his or her vehicle, including the driver’s name, telephone number, email address and mailing address, as well as the make, model, color and license number of the vehicle. Also take down the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident take place.
Assuming that everyone is properly insured, you and the other driver should also exchange insurance information at this time. If the other driver is uninsured, this is when you are likely to find out. However, even if the other driver shows you an insurance card, you should still take down his or her information in case the policy is expired, canceled or in someone else’s name.
If you have a smart phone or other camera available, take pictures after an accident to provide documentation of the scene and any damage that has occurred, including:
- Vehicle damage.
- The location of the crash.
- Skid marks, if there are any.
- Any other details from the scene that may be relevant.
Call Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can after an accident with an uninsured driver in California, call your insurance company to notify them of the crash. Depending on your policy, you may have purchased uninsured motorist coverage, which provides you with extra protection in the event of a crash with an uninsured driver. Unlike some states, however, California law does not require drivers to carry this coverage, so you will need to check your policy details to find out if you are covered.
Even if you do have uninsured motorist coverage through your own car insurance, it does not necessarily mean that your insurer will agree to cover your claims. The insurance company may try to minimize their payments to you or deny payment on your claim altogether. By getting help from an experienced personal injury lawyer before agreeing to settle your claim with the insurance company, you can make sure your interests are protected and improve your chances of receiving maximum compensation for the injuries, property damage and other losses you have suffered as a result of the crash.