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THINGS TO DO AT THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT

1. Immediately stop at the scene.

2. Call 911 if there are injuries.

3. Call the police. In some areas police authorities may not come to every accident scene. They may consider factors such as the severity and location of the accident (some police authorities may not come to the scene if the accident is on private property. Always attempt to notify the police). You should also be aware that most policies require notification of police within a specified time period if the accident is a hit and run.

4. Obtain names, addresses, telephone numbers, and driver’s license numbers from all drivers. Ask to see driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations to verify that the information is accurate.

5. Obtain license plates and vehicle identification numbers.

6. Obtain names, addresses, and telephone numbers of other passengers and any witnesses.

7. If you have a camera, take photographs of the damage, the position of the cars, and the accident scene (traffic controls, visual obstacles, etc.).

8. If the owner of a damaged car or damaged property cannot be located, leave a note with the names and addresses of the driver and owners of the involved cars.

9. Notify your agent and/or your insurance company immediately.

10.If anyone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750, you must report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. Failure to notify the DMV may result in the suspension of your driver’s license.

THINGS TO AVOID AT THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT

1. Do not argue with other drivers and passengers. Save your story for the police and your insurance company.

2. Do not sign statements regarding fault or promises to pay for damage.

3. If another party offers to pay your deductible, don’t sign anything releasing them from further responsibility. By releasing the other party, you jeopardize your insurance company’s subrogation right, and the company may refuse to pay for damage to your car.

CALIFORNIA MOTORIST BILL OF RIGHTS

1. Do I have the right to take my car to the shop of my choice?

                Yes – You may select the repair facility of your choice unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise.

2. Should my Insurance company be notified before repairs?

                Yes – Your insurance policy generally states that, if requested, you must file a sworn proof of loss, exhibit the damaged property, and submit to examination under oath.

3. Do I need to contact more than one shop for an estimate?

                No – Generally, one estimate from the shop of your choice is required.

4. Am I responsible for the cost of repairs?

                Yes – You are usually responsible to the repair facility for payment of repairs unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise.

5. Is the repair facility responsible for the repairs performed on my car?

                Yes – The Automobile Repair Act of 1971 requires all repair dealers to be registered with the State of California and to post a sign This Act [Section 9884.7(1)(g)] states that the Department of Consumer Affairs may invalidate the registration of the repair dealer for a number of causes. 

6. If I am having difficulties with my insurance company, do I have recourse?

                Yes – First consult with your insurance agent or broker. Then, if your problems still have not been resolved, consult with the Department of Insurance, State of California, toll free line: 1-800-927-HELP (4357).

7. If my Insurance company does not agree with the amount of loss, do I have recourse other than No. 6?

                Yes – Your insurance policy may provide that, when the insured and insurer fail to agree on the amount of loss, both parties are entitled to arbitration.

8. Can an insurer require my automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop?

                No. Under California Insurance Code §758.5 an insurance company cannot make that requirement. They can direct, suggest, or recommend that an automobile be repaired at a specific repair shop, if: a) such referral is expressly requested by the claimant; b) you have been informed in writing of the right to select the repair facility; and, c) the insurer that elects to repair a vehicle shall cause the damaged vehicle to be restored to its condition prior to the loss at no additional cost to the claimant other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise allowed by law.

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