What Is My Responsibility In A Car Crash
Careless driving is very dangerous and can come with many consequences. It can lead to a collision, which can cause damage to or the loss of your vehicle. The cost to get your vehicle repaired, possible insurance increase, or having to buy a new vehicle can get expensive. If your car is damaged beyond repair and your insurance does not cover renting a car, it can be difficult or an inconvenience to figure out daily transportation.
If you are involved in a collision, anywhere in the state, on public or private land, you must stop, render aid, and identify yourself. If you don’t stop, you may be convicted of “hit and run” and could be severely punished. If anyone is hurt, call the police or CHP. Dial 9-1-1. In cities or towns, report to the local police or dial 9-1-1. If you are involved in a minor traffic collision (no one is injured or killed), move your vehicle out of the traffic lane. Show your driver license, registration card, evidence of financial responsibility, and current address to the other driver or persons involved, or to any peace officer.
If someone is injured and there isn’t a phone nearby, send someone for help. DO NOT attempt to move an injured person unless they are in immediate danger of being further injured (such as laying in the way of oncoming traffic). It is better to alert oncoming vehicles of the potential hazard. In the mean time, you can assist the situation by obtaining names and addresses of any witnesses. When the officer arrives you should give all the accurate facts and offer any additional assistance with the situation.
If no one is present, you must leave a note with name, address, license number, owner, how collision occurred, and notify police as soon as possible. Failure to comply is a misdemeanor (Felony if injury/death occurs.)
An extreme consequence to careless driving can be death, to yourself, your passengers and/or others. If anyone gets seriously injured or killed, it can have a grave impact on your life, your family and friends and of the same for those who were involved in the incident. It is very important to pay attention to the road and follow the laws of traffic to ensure everyone’s safety.
Motorists will be required to provide evidence of insurance to the DMV at the time that they register their vehicles. Evidence must be on a DMV form that includes:
- Name and address of the applicant (owner).
- Year, make, model and identification number of the vehicle.
- Name, identification number and address of the insurer.
- Effective and expiration dates of the policy.
- Statement from the insurance company that the policy meets the minimum liability requirement.
Motorists must also provide evidence (proof) of insurance to a peace officer when stopped for a suspected vehicle code violation (except parking). Acceptable evidence is the name of the insurer and the number of the policy. Evidence must be in writing and can be established by noting the required information on the vehicle registration card.
If you are involved in a collision with property damage in excess of $750 you must report it to the DMV within 10 days and/or any injury or fatal collision to the police or CHP within 24 hours.
Drivers should carry proof of insurance in their cars. They should write the name of the insurer and the number of the policy on the vehicle registration card and also keep in the car any insurance identification card provided by their insurance company. Penalties for motorists convicted of not having automobile insurance are severe:
- Fines for a first offense range from $500 to $1000, not including penalty assessments.
- Fines for subsequent convictions range from $1000 to $2000.
- A court may impound the uninsured vehicle.
- Providing false evidence of insurance is a misdemeanor.
If a motorist who has insurance is cited for failure to provide proper evidence to a law enforcement officer, in some cases the violation can be corrected by providing appropriate proof to the court, along with a fee.
The DMV no longer has the choice of canceling the registration of any vehicle when it is determined that the vehicle is not covered by a valid form of financial responsibility, but instead the DMV is mandated to cancel the registration by law. Additionally, the DMV may charge a reinstatement fee to cover the cost of reinstating the registration after cancellation.
POSSIBLE AUTO INSURANCE INCREASE If you’re ever involved in a collision, it could possibly affect your auto insurance. If you are not considered to be at fault, most likely the rates will not be increased. On the other hand, being at fault in a collision will impact rates depending on the company’s guidelines. It may cause you to lose your good driver discount which ranges in the area of 20%. If there was only one vehicle involved, usually the collision will be considered to be chargeable unless it was caused by some kind of debris on the road or by a collision with nature’s objects such as a falling tree, an animal etc. To determine fault, a police report will usually indicate the at-fault party. Without a police report, insurance companies may investigate through witness reports and driver statements. Usually, if both drivers are found liable or 50% at fault, both drivers would be considered at-fault.
Whether or not there were injuries involved will also have different impacts on rates. If one was at fault but there were no injuries, it would have less of an impact than if there were. Sometimes the police report may be acceptable proof of no-injury; however, not all companies will accept it since persons may not feel injured until a couple days later.
If a driver involved in a collision was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it will be considered a “major violation” and may cause a bigger impact on premiums since it will be in conjunction with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated).
A collision may be dismissed or non-chargeable if the property damages were under a certain amount, usually $750 in damage; however, the amount may vary within carriers. Usually when there is insignificant damage to the vehicles (fender benders) and no injuries are involved, then rates are not impacted.
If a collision occurred more than three years ago, usually it will be not be considered chargeable since guidelines usually dismiss them after a certain time. Check with the insurer to see how long until they dismiss them. Also, the number of collisions one is involved in determines impact. Multiple collisions within a certain period may cause non-renewal and significant rate increases.
How Much Insurance Must You Carry? State law says you must be financially responsible for your actions whenever you drive and for all motor vehicles you own. It is illegal to drive without being financially responsible. Most drivers choose to have an automobile liability insurance policy as proof of financial responsibility. If you have a collision not covered by your insurance, your license will be suspended. If the driver is not identified, the owner of the motor vehicle involved will have his or her license suspended.
The minimum amount your insurance must cover per collision is:
- $15,000 for a single death or injury.
- $30,000 for death or injury to more than one person.
- $5,000 for property damage.
- If you are visiting California, or have just moved here, you should be aware that many out-of-state insurance companies are not authorized to do business in California. Before you drive here you should ask your insurance company if you are covered in case of a collision. Should you become involved in a collision in California, all three of the following conditions must be met to avoid suspension of your driving privilege:
- Your liability policy must provide bodily injury and property damage coverage which equals or exceeds the limits stated above;
- Your insurance company must file a power of attorney, allowing the DMV to act as its agent for legal service in California; and
3. You must have insured the vehicle before you came to California. Many lawsuits are settled for much more money than the minimum amounts set by the Financial Responsibility Law. You may have to pay the extra money if your insurance doesn’t pay it all.
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