If you drive a car in California you are legally required to carry a minimally-acceptable amount of car insurance. Many drivers, however, drive without insurance or without an acceptable amount of insurance. In fact, research shows that as many as 15 percent of the drivers on the road have insurance coverage, at all.
Car insurance can be essential for covering medical bills and property damage if you’re involved in an accident. What happens if you’re involved in a car accident with a driver who is uninsured?
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
California drivers are encouraged to carry what is known as uninsured motorist coverage. In fact, you are required to carry it unless you specifically opt out of the supplemental coverage in writing.
This uninsured motorist coverage acts as a safety net if you are injured by a driver who is uninsured or underinsured. This is true even if you’re not in your car – the coverage extends to you as a bicyclist or pedestrian. In order to recover insurance benefits you simply make a claim against your own insurance policy within 24 months of your accident.
Uninsured Driver: If the other driver is entirely without insurance, you can generally receive uninsured motorist coverage benefits from your insurance company for up to the amount of your standard liability protection.
Underinsured Driver: If the other driver has insurance, but does not carry enough to meet the required minimums, your uninsured motorist coverage can be used to make up the difference in what you are owed.
The amount of your uninsured motorist insurance benefits will depend on the terms of your insurance policy and your company’s investigation of your claim. Remember, insurance companies are always looking out for their bottom line. If they can deny or limit your claim, they will.
If you disagree with your insurance company’s assessment or offer you have the right to contest it through a process called arbitration. This allows you and your insurance company to settle your dispute privately with the help of a neutral third party. Uninsured motorist claims can be complicated. Make sure that you are prepared to fight for the benefits you deserve by hiring an attorney to handle your dispute.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, or if the amounts you will recoup through your police will not be enough to cover all of your costs, you have the option of taking legal action.
In California, accident victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages from a negligent party. However, if the person who is responsible for your injuries did not carry insurance, they may not be able to cover the cost of your injuries. In order for a lawsuit to be meaningful, the defendant has to have some way to come up with the damages. If the defendant in your case has no assets, it may be difficult to recover damages.
It will be important to evaluate why the driver did not have insurance and if they would have the ability to pay any damages secured by a lawsuit.
What Should I Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
The steps you take after an accident will affect any future claims you file. This is true whether or not the other driver has insurance. However, it can be even more important to gather evidence in these situations.
See a Doctor: Get your injuries checked out right away. Seeing a doctor will ensure that there are no complications and that your injuries are fully treated. Your visit will create a record of your injury that can be useful to establish cause.
Report the Accident: Call the police as soon you possible to report the accident. An officer will be sent to the scene to investigate and write a report. Some uninsured drivers may flee the scene of an accident to avoid a confrontation with the police. If this happens, calling the police is an absolute necessity.
Gather Evidence Take photographs of your property damage and injuries, write down your memories of the accident, and collect any information that may be relevant to your case.
Call an Attorney: Getting the money you need after a car accident can be difficult. This is especially true if the at-fault driver didn’t have insurance. Hiring an attorney to handle your case will increase the likelihood of recovering the damages you deserve.
How Can an Attorney Help?
If you’ve been injured by an uninsured driver in Los Angeles it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.
You have a few different options in front of you, and it can be difficult to determine which strategy is best. Will the benefits from your uninsured motorist coverage be sufficient to cover the full extent of your injuries? What if you don’t think your insurance company’s offer is fair? Should you even bother trying to file a personal injury claim for damages against the at-fault driver? Can that driver afford to pay damages if your lawsuit is successful? Your attorney can help you answer these questions by thoroughly investigating your accident. After being presented with your options, you can choose the path that is best for you.
At Citywide Law Group, we will fight to make sure that you are fairly compensated after a car accident with an uninsured driver. Whether you want to fight your insurance company in arbitration or pursue legal action against the negligent driver, we are prepared to help you get the money you need. Call our Los Angeles car accident attorneys today to request a free consultation and learn more.