Despite strict laws and auto requirements for all California motorists, you would be surprised at the number of people who get behind the wheel without any form of insurance. Recent data from the Insurance Information Institute (III) shows that around 13% of drivers are uninsured.
This means that, in the event of a car crash, there is about a one in eight chance that the other driver lacks insurance coverage. At a minimum, all drivers in California are required to have liability insurance in the following amounts:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000
Liability insurance provides coverage to those who sustain damage in an accident caused by the insured driver. However, when a driver doesn’t have even minimum liability coverage, those who sustain damages as a result of their negligence may have to turn to their own insurance company.
Taking the Right Steps
As with any car accident, you should always make sure that you call 9-1-1 so that emergency personnel and police officers arrive at the scene. Give your statement to police officers so that your attorney can obtain the police report later on. Once you take care of your immediate health and safety, exchange information with the other driver.
While you won’t be able to collect their insurance information if they don’t have coverage, make sure to collect their name, contact information, driver’s license number, license plate number, and vehicle make and model. If there were any witnesses, collect their contact information as well.
Make sure to take photos of the vehicles, your injuries, and the surrounding scene of the crash. The more information you have, the better.
Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim
Immediately after the accident, you should contact your agent and inform them that you were hit by an uninsured driver and that you intend to file an uninsured motorist claim. Your insurance company will then assign an adjuster to your claim. The adjuster will investigate the merits of the claim on behalf of your insurance company.
Insurance companies in California are required to offer UM/UIM coverage to their policyholders, but you can choose to opt out. However, if you choose to do this, you potentially leave yourself vulnerable to out-of-pocket expenses if you are hit by an uninsured driver, a driver without sufficient coverage, or a driver that flees the scene after hitting you.
Pursuing a Civil Lawsuit Against the At-Fault Driver
If you did not have UM/UIM coverage at the time of the accident, you would not be able to file a claim with your own insurance company to reimburse you for your damages. Your next option would then be to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This option is considered a last resort in these situations, as the uninsured driver probably has very little money to his or her name.
However, this may be the best option for some individuals who still have out-of-pocket expenses. If the at-fault driver can’t afford to pay the damages all at once, then the court may set up a payment plan that allows the individual to pay you back slowly. Your attorney can also run a credit check to see if filing a lien on their assets is another option.
Injured by an Uninsured Motorist?
Even if you have UM/UIM coverage included in your policy, filing an insurance claim is rarely an easy or swift process. Many insurance companies have strict deadlines when it comes to filing an uninsured motorist claim, so don’t delay the process.
Regardless of what course of action you choose to pursue, it’s always in your best interest to seek the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney who can review the details of your case and determine how to go about getting you the compensation you deserve.
At Effres & Effres, our legal team is dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured across Southern California. With over 35 years of combined legal experience, we know what it takes to help our clients recover the right way.
Contact our Los Angeles car accident attorneys at (818) 222-9720 to get started on your case today. We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations and accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.