Every California driver must carry auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. California uses a fault system to determine liability for car accident damages. Every auto insurance policy must offer bodily injury liability coverage for a single person, bodily injury liability coverage for a total accident, and property damage liability coverage. The minimum coverage amounts are $15,000, $30,000, and $5,000, respectively. Drivers are also encouraged to purchase under insured/uninsured driver coverage in addition to their basic coverage requirements.
When an accident occurs, the at-fault driver is liable for the resulting damages. The injured driver has the right to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy, and there are many procedural requirements to resolve the issue. One of the most critical issues you must address when it comes to car accident claims is reporting the accident. California state law requires drivers to call 911 to report any accident that causes injury, death, or severe property damage. However, drivers are also required to report accidents to their insurance companies regardless of how an accident occurred.
Reporting Your Accident to Insurance
California uses a fault system to resolve car accident claims. This means that if another driver caused your accident, you must file a claim against their insurance policy. However, you must also report the accident to your own insurance company as well. Most insurers require drivers to report accidents within 24 hours, but you must read the terms of your policy to determine the time limit that applies to your situation. Every insurance company has different rules.
If you intend to file a claim against another driver’s policy, you must also notify their insurance company of your intent to file a claim as soon as possible. You do not necessarily need to file your claim immediately; every insurance company offers different time frames for filing auto insurance claims. However, you need to notify the insurer about your accident as soon as possible. Typically, the insurer will inform you how much time you have to file your claim once you report your accident.
What Happens If I Fail to Report an Accident?
It’s essential to meet all your reporting obligations after an accident, both to the police and insurance companies. If you fail to report an accident to the police as required by state law, you risk facing severe criminal charges, including hit-and-run, depending on the nature of the accident. If you fail to report your accident to your own insurance company, they may drop your coverage and force you to secure a new auto insurance policy. The penalties for failing to report an accident will likely be outlined within the terms of your policy. If you do not report the accident to the other driver’s insurance carrier as required, you could miss your opportunity to file an insurance claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
It’s generally best to have legal counsel on your side after a car accident someone else caused. Your attorney can significantly streamline the claim process and improve the quality of your recovery. If you are having trouble meeting your insurance claim requirements or are simply struggling with recovery from your injuries and need help with your legal affairs, representation you can trust is an invaluable asset.
Your attorney can carefully review the terms and conditions of your insurance policy and review an at-fault driver’s policy to help you maximize your recovery from insurance. However, even if the fault for your recent accident is perfectly clear, you should not assume that your insurance claim process will be easy or that you will obtain a settlement check that fully covers your losses. You could encounter unexpected issues with the insurance claim process, and you may need to take action beyond the insurance claim system to fully recover your losses.
How Long Do You Have to File a Claim for a Car Accident in California?
The exact time you have to file a claim against another driver’s auto insurance policy comes down to the individual insurer. Some insurance companies require claimants to file their claims within a few days of an accident, while others do not impose strict time limits on filing insurance claims. Notify the other driver’s insurance company of the accident and inform them that you intend to file an insurance claim. The insurer will tell you how long you have to do it.
How Long After an Accident Can You Claim Car Insurance?
This is another issue that comes down to the individual insurer. Every insurance company has different rules, and you may have a few days to a few months to file your claim. However, it is always best to file a car insurance claim as soon as possible after an accident. The sooner you file your claim, the better your chances of securing total compensation for your losses.
How Soon Can You File a Claim After Obtaining an Insurance Policy?
If you just recently secured an insurance policy, you may wonder how soon you can file a claim for coverage. Generally, insurance companies will view any claims filed immediately after a policy is created with suspicion. For example, they may wonder if your accident occurred before you secured the policy or if you obtained insurance simply to file a claim immediately. Typically, insurance coverage takes effect as soon as you sign your policy contract and make your first premium payment, but the exact terms and conditions vary from company to company.
Should You Call Your Insurance or the Other Driver’s First After an Accident?
If another driver caused your recent accident, you could file a claim against their policy to secure compensation for your damages. You must still report the accident to your insurance carrier, ideally within 24 hours of the accident. Notify your own insurance company about the accident, then contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to notify them that you intend to file a claim.
Dealing with insurance companies is rarely easy, especially when you are reeling in the aftermath of a damaging accident. However, an experienced attorney can help you meet your insurance-related obligations and secure the settlement you deserve after another driver has injured you. If you need assistance resolving a recent car accident claim in Southern California, contact Easton & Easton to schedule a consultation with our firm and find out how to assist your recovery.
Doug Easton has practiced law since 1971. After 20 years of practicing with various large litigation firms, he founded the Law Offices of W. Douglas Easton in 1991 as a solo practitioner. In the years that followed, Doug’s sons Brian and Matt joined him in the practice and helped build the firm into a powerful force to help right the wrongs done to their clients. Much of their success over the years has stemmed from the dynamic created by the familial nature of the firm and how harmoniously they all work together, each of their individual strengths complementing and fortifying the group as a whole. Accordingly, the firm changed its name to Easton & Easton, LLP in 2014 to better reflect the true dynamic of the firm and Doug now serves as Managing Partner of Easton & Easton.
In 2015, Doug was selected as a Top 100 Litigation Lawyer in California by The American Society of Legal Advocates. In addition, Doug is listed in Strathmore’s Who’s Who, and in 2008 was named its “Professional of the Year” in Medical Malpractice.