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Mandatory Exchange of Information After an Accident

California Vehicle Code Section 16025 requires that every driver involved in a car accident provide certain information to all other drivers likewise involved. This requirement is not contingent upon request by the other driver(s); rather, following a car accident, the following information must be offered, even if not requested:

1) Name of driver; 2) Driver’s address; 3) Driver’s license number; 4) Vehicle identification number; 5) Address of the registered owner of the vehicle; 6) Proof of financial responsibility as specified in California Vehicle Code Section 16020.

This requirement is waived only when a party is incapable of providing the information following the accident (i.e., they were severely injured or so distraught they could not think/respond clearly). There are certainly other reasons why you might be unable to provide the required information following a serious car accident., but exchanging this information is critical for purposes of making sure the responsible parties are identified and the appropriate contact information is obtained for purposes of communication between the parties (or their insurance companies) in resolving any liability claims which may have arisen during the car accident.

It is often the case that the at-fault party, immediately following a car accident, refuses to provide this information out of either embarassment or anger over what just transpired, or provides the car accident victim with wrong or inaccurate information. Fortunately, identifying the at-fault party is not a difficult task, assuming the license plate is written down before the parties depart the scene of the accident. If the information provided to the victim is inaccurate or turns out to be expired, hopefully the accident victim has uninsured or underinsured coverage withing their own car insurance policy (see Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage). Regardless of the reason why the party refuses to provide the information, the best approach is to request the information multiple times and explain that they are required to provide it under the law. Assuming the police arrive at the scene of the accident, the police will gather the appropriate information for their report. The officer will then provide all parties with a police report receipt with identifiable information on it for purposes of obtaining a copy at a later date when the report is finalized.

Failure to abide by this requirement is an infraction and punishable by a fine of no greater than $250.00. If you are not sure what you should do following an accident, contact our Motor vehicle accident lawyer and we will provide you with the appropriate information.

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