Imagine driving on a busy street that leads home, it’s after work, and there’s rush hour traffic. You are one red light from your front yard when suddenly… BAM! You’ve been hit by another car. You both get out, exchange apologies, and suddenly the other driver tells you that they don’t have insurance. What do you do now? For many drivers in California this scenario plays out daily, so how do you proceed in order to repair your vehicle or even yourself in the event that you are injured? Let’s break down some common laws in California and options you have to recover damages.
California State Law requires that drivers have a way to cover costs for damages or injuries you may cause in an auto accident. The most common and simplest way people choose to meet this requirement is to buy liability insurance. According to the California DMV website, “the minimum amount of liability insurance you must have on your policy: is $15,000 for injury/death to one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for damage to property”. Oddly enough some people purchase liability insurance to register their vehicle with the DMV and then let their policy expire. A recent study by the Insurance Research Council done in 2009, found that 1 in every 7 drivers was uninsured, or about 14% of motorists nationwide. This means the likelihood of you getting into an accident with an uninsured driver is surprisingly high. So let’s go over some options you have to avoid the pricy cost of an accident.
As previously stated the most common type of car insurance is liability, but there are many other types that insurance companies can offer you to better protect you in any incident.
Most drivers who have insurance only carry the minimum liability amount, which sometimes is not sufficient to pay for all the damages from an accident. Almost all insurance companies offer (UM) uninsured motorist and (UIM) underinsured motorist coverage that can be added to your insurance policy. UM coverage protects against accidents with drivers that do not have car insurance and who are placed at fault for an accident. UM insurance also covers injuries and medical expenses that result from an accident or a hit-and-run driver. Most types of UM insurance covers you and your passengers from lost wages as well as pain and suffering. Your UM coverage cannot exceed the amount of your standard liability meaning that if you have a $15,000 coverage policy you can’t have more than $15,000 in UM coverage.
Just like UM coverage, (UIM) underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages during an accident with a driver that has car insurance, but not enough to cover for your vehicle’s damages or injuries to you or passengers. Having UIM coverage helps cover the difference between the other driver’s coverage and the total combined amount of your damages and losses. Unfortunately even this may not be enough to recover losses and damages, which leads us to a lawsuit.
If you get into an accident with an uninsured motorist and you suffered serious injuries, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the driver. Depending on what state you live in, some states have a “no-fault” law where each motorist or their insurance company is responsible for paying their own medical injuries or damages, regardless of which driver was at fault. California is a traditional negligence state, meaning California negligence laws follows “comparative negligence,” which allows you to sue for the percentage of damages but only if you are able to demonstrate the following to prove negligence: The uninsured driver had a duty to commit an act or refrain. The uninsured driver’s negligence of duty caused injuries. The uninsured driver should have seen the dangers of their actions. You suffered damages such as lost earnings from work, property damage or pain and suffering caused by an accident. If you are successful in proving the other driver at fault for an accident, there is no guarantee that you will be able to collect anything. Most drivers that are uninsured do not have much money and trying to collect could be a lost cause.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto collision, AA-Accident Attorneys P.L.C. strongly encourages you to call our car accident lawyer at 1.800.260.2577 for a free consultation. Our highly skilled and experienced attorneys will provide you with the best legal representation and guidance that you need. Our offices are conveniently located throughout California and we conduct regular travels in the region to meet with clients.