Auto Accident

A Crucial Guide on What to Do If the Car Accident Wasn't Your Fault

Two SUV's crashed into each other.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. In Case of Non-Fault, Do I Contact Insurance

III. What If I Neglect to Contact My Insurance Company?

IV. What a Lawyer Can Do for You

V. Conclusion



Red sedan car damaged after an accident
Image by Netto Figueiredo from Pixabay

When you're in an automobile accident, your thoughts quickly turn to who was at fault. How do you proceed when the at-fault driver is not you?

Every driver in California must be able to demonstrate proof of financial responsibility, according to California Vehicle Code Section 16029. In other words, you must have car insurance in order to pay for damages if you cause bodily injury to someone or property damage to a vehicle. Having said that, if you are the victim of an accident, you must still take specific procedures.

You must inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if you were hit by another vehicle and the damage or bodily injury exceeds $1,000. According to state law, you must submit a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California form SR 1 demonstrating that you have proper insurance. This form must be completed and returned within ten days after the collision.

In Case of Non-fault, Do I Contact Insurance?

Man calling with an iphone.
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Even if you find yourself as the victim of an automobile accident, it is important to inform your insurance provider, as stated in the guidelines set by the California Department of Insurance. Your insurance policy serves as a contractual agreement that outlines the rights and obligations of both you and your insurance provider. Typically, one of these provisions requires you to cooperate with your insurance provider's inquiry. Failing to report the collision may result in a violation of your insurance policy.

Furthermore, it is crucial to grasp the concept of pure comparative negligence in the state of California. This legal principle allows individuals to seek compensation even if they bear some responsibility for their own injuries. However, the percentage of fault attributed to you will be deducted from the overall award you receive.

To illustrate, suppose you are determined to be 20% at fault in a car accident, and you are awarded $100,000 in damages. In this scenario, your award would be reduced by 20%, resulting in a final compensation of $80,000. This exemplifies why obtaining legal assistance following a car accident is highly advisable.

Remember, the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. Seeking legal assistance not only helps you understand your rights but also provides you with the support and guidance needed to pursue a fair resolution. By partnering with skilled legal professionals, you can strive for a just outcome that adequately addresses your injuries, damages, and any other losses you may have experienced.

What If I Neglect to Contact My Insurance Company?

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Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

When involved in an accident, failing to notify your insurance company can unwittingly expose you to various hazards and complications. By not disclosing the accident, you may provide grounds for the insurance company to refuse your claim or even cancel your policy altogether. Even if the other motorist is at fault, they might contest the fault determination and submit a claim against your insurance coverage, bringing attention to the accident you failed to report.

Insurance companies, naturally, are not fond of paying claims. Their business model relies on collecting more premiums than they are obligated to pay out in damages and injuries. Consequently, the at-fault driver's insurance will diligently search for ways to avoid fulfilling damage or injury claims.

In the unfortunate event that the at-fault driver's insurance company denies your claim, there are only a couple of options available to pursue compensation:

  1. Paying Out of Your Own Pocket: Many individuals find it challenging to afford significant expenses like hospital bills or car repairs. However, if you lack car insurance, you won't have the option to utilize Med-Pay or limit your out-of-pocket costs to the amount of your policy deductible.
  2. Making a Claim on Your Own Insurance: If you added collision coverage to your car insurance policy and informed your insurance company about the accident, you can have your car repaired under your own policy. Additionally, you may be able to make a claim under uninsured motorist bodily injury or uninsured motorist property damage coverage to cover medical bills or car repairs. These are optional coverages that can be utilized when the other party involved in the accident does not have insurance.
  3. Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Court: Pursuing legal action by filing a lawsuit can be a lengthy and uncertain process. Even if the lawsuit reaches a resolution, there is no guarantee that you will receive the compensation you deserve. Before deciding to pursue this option, carefully consider the extent of the damage and the amount necessary to make you whole again, weighing it against the potential costs and uncertainties involved in litigation.

It's important to note that failing to inform your insurance company about a car accident, and subsequently having the at-fault driver make a claim under your policy, can be seen as a violation of your policy terms. This situation may result in both you and the other driver being denied coverage, leaving you susceptible to legal action.

What a Lawyer Can Do for You

Lawyer going over insurance documents
Image by LEANDRO AGUILAR from Pixabay

When you find yourself dealing with property damage and injuries caused by someone else's negligence, it is unjust for you to bear the financial burden. By enlisting the services of a skilled lawyer, you can ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve. A lawyer will not only provide valuable guidance but also take proactive steps to strengthen your case and pursue a favorable outcome.

Here are some detailed actions that a lawyer can undertake on your behalf to establish the extent of your losses resulting from the defendant's carelessness:

  1. Obtaining a Police Report: A crucial piece of evidence in any accident case is the police report. Your lawyer will obtain a copy of the report, which typically contains vital details such as the circumstances of the accident, statements from involved parties, and the officer's observations. This report serves as an official record that supports your claim and helps establish liability.
  2. Speaking to Witnesses and Gathering Evidence: Witnesses play a crucial role in corroborating your account of the accident. Your lawyer will identify and interview witnesses who were present at the scene. Their statements can provide additional evidence and support your version of events. In addition to witness testimony, your lawyer will gather other relevant evidence, such as photographs, surveillance footage, or any documentation related to the accident.
  3. Engaging Expert Witnesses and Accident Reconstruction Specialists: In complex accident cases, expert witnesses and accident reconstruction specialists can provide valuable insights and technical expertise. These professionals can analyze the accident scene, examine vehicle damage, review medical records, and reconstruct the sequence of events. Their expert opinions and testimony can strengthen your case by providing an objective assessment of fault and causation.
  4. Obtaining Your Latest Medical Records: To substantiate your claim for compensation, it is essential to present comprehensive medical documentation. Your lawyer will work closely with your healthcare providers to obtain your latest medical records, including diagnostic reports, treatment records, and invoices for medical expenses. This evidence is crucial in demonstrating the extent of your injuries, the impact on your well-being, and the associated costs.

Establish Negligence

To establish that you were not at fault in the accident, your legal representation will rely on four key elements of negligence. These elements serve as the foundation for demonstrating that the other party was responsible for the incident and should be held liable for the resulting damages. Let's delve into each element with additional detail:

  1. Duty of Care: Every driver has a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care while operating a vehicle. This duty of care extends to all road users, including pedestrians and fellow motorists. Your lawyer will argue that the other driver had a duty to look out for your safety and well-being on the road.
  2. Breach of Duty of Care: Your attorney will assert that the other driver failed to meet the required standard of care. By examining the specific circumstances surrounding the accident, they will gather evidence to demonstrate how the other driver's actions or omissions deviated from what a reasonably prudent person would have done in a similar situation. This breach of duty will form a critical component of your case.
  3. Causation: To establish negligence, it is essential to prove that the breach of the other driver's duty of care directly caused the losses and injuries you suffered. Your lawyer will work diligently to establish a clear causal connection between the other driver's negligent behavior and the harm you experienced. This may involve gathering medical records, expert opinions, and other relevant evidence to support your claim.
  4. Economic Losses and Injuries: As the plaintiff, you have experienced tangible economic losses and injuries as a direct result of the accident. Your attorney will meticulously document and quantify these losses, which may include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other related financial burdens. These economic losses, along with the physical and emotional injuries you endured, serve as the basis for seeking a fair financial award through the legal process.

By meticulously addressing these elements of negligence, your legal team will build a robust case to establish that you were the victim of a preventable accident. Furthermore, if your injuries have resulted in long-term consequences, such as ongoing medical treatment or the inability to work, your lawyer will strive to ensure that you are rightfully compensated for the losses you have incurred. The objective is to alleviate your concerns about financial hardships and allow you to focus on your recovery and well-being.

**(If any of these terms are unclear, please consult our dedicated personal injury dictionary, which offers examples to help you navigate through legal terminology. )

Possible Financial Gains

You may be eligible for both economic and non-economic awards, depending on the extent of your losses.

The consequences of a car accident can be profound, both physically and mentally, and can include:

●  Chronic Pain

●  Disability

●  Loss of Independence

●  Emotional Suffering

●  Medical Expenses

●  Damage to Property

●  Wages Forfeited

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. You may also pursue a settlement through an insurance claim or litigation.

Your personal injury lawyer may be able to make a case against the findings of the police officer who came to the scene of the accident. Insurers and the court can also use a ticket or an arrest made after the accident as proof of who was at fault.


Despite the fact that the insurance company will try to prove the other person was not at fault, you should still have someone look over the proof and make sure everything is correct. A lot of times, a car accident is the fault of the driver on the other end of the accident. It's only after a thorough investigation that the insurance company and the court can come to the right conclusion.

For the best Los Angeles truck accident lawyers, you need a winning team like Mendez and Sanchez Law. Our lawyers and other members of our team are here to help you as we fight for the money you deserve. If you have been hurt in an accident, have workers' compensation, slip and fall, or need other legal help, call us for a free consultation at (323) 838-1444.


‍Yes, it is essential to inform your insurance company about the accident, even if you were not at fault. Your insurance policy likely requires you to cooperate with your provider's investigation.

‍Failing to notify your insurance company can expose you to risks, including claim denial or policy cancellation. Additionally, the at-fault driver's insurance company may contest fault determination and file a claim against your coverage.

‍Yes, California's pure comparative negligence rule allows you to pursue compensation even if you bear some responsibility. However, the amount you can recover will be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

‍A personal injury lawyer can provide valuable assistance by answering your questions, exploring your legal options, gathering evidence, and negotiating with insurance companies. They can also represent you in court if necessary.

‍The duration of a car accident lawsuit can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to reach a settlement. It's best to consult with your attorney for an estimate specific to your situation.

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