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What You Need to Know About Filing a California Car Accident Insurance Claim

Steven R. Andrade Feb. 8, 2016

However, if you do have an accident, then having a sufficient amount of auto insurance policy can help you get your life back together – even if the at-fault driver was not insured or did not have sufficient insurance. It is important to understand how to go about filing a car accident claim after a motor vehicle crash.

The legal team at Andrade Law Offices has helped numerous Southern California car accident victims assert their legal rights following a car accident, including their right to seek full and appropriate insurance compensation. When we instruct clients to file a claim with their insurance company, we give them the following steps to complete. These steps are similar to offered the State Bar of California, and other websites:

1. Notify Your Insurance Company as Soon as Possible.

If the other driver was at fault, you should make a claim with the other driver's insurance company. Do not delay in filing your claim. The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it may be to prove that the damages or injuries for which you are seeking compensation did, in fact, occur on the date of your accident.

2. Contact Your Insurer to Start the Claims Process.

You begin the auto insurance claims process by calling your insurer's customer service or claims number and indicating that you would like to file a claim. The person on the other end of the line will take down information including your name, your policy, your losses (injuries and/or damage to property), and a brief description of what happened. You are not required at this point to give a sworn or recorded statement to the insurance company. You should be careful about giving a statement to a representative of the at-fault driver's insurance company. It is better to speak with an attorney first so that you can give an accurate statement of what happened that does not undermine your legal rights following a car accident.

3. Verify At-Fault Driver's Insurance Information.

Drivers typically exchange insurance information after an accident. If the other driver does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance, your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy should pay for your personal injuries up to the limits of your policy.

4. Complete Required Forms.

Your insurance company may send you a claims form to complete. You should complete this form and return it as soon as possible along with supporting documentation such as copies of medical bills and repair estimates for your car. Send these documents back to the insurer using certified mail so that you have a record that you did, in fact, mail the claims form and supporting documents to the insurer. Be sure to keep a copy of all documents you send to the insurer.

5. Dealing with The Insurance Company.

The at-fault driver's insurance company may wish to investigate your claim if it questions whether coverage exists for your losses. Be careful about any dealings with the opposing insurance company. Their goal is to minimize any payment they make. If you are not satisfied with the amount of compensation the insurance company offers, you should seek the perspective of an experienced Santa Barbara accident attorney. A knowledgeable accident attorney can review a settlement offer, advise you whether it is a fair offer based on the specific factors in your accident and negotiate on your behalf for a more just settlement.

Andrade Law Offices is a Santa Barbara law firm dedicated to helping car accident victims in Southern California recover the compensation following a car crash. Contact our firm's offices and speak with our compassionate legal team about how we can help you put the pieces of your life back together following a crash. You can contact our offices by telephone or you can contact us online.