What is an Uninsured or Underinsured Motor Vehicle?
In most auto accidents in California, you would file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company in order to recover as settlement for the damages you suffered. However, that is not possible when the other driver doesn’t have an insurance policy. If the motorist in a car accident does not have car insurance, that motorist is considered uninsured.
If you were in a car accident with an uninsured driver, your most assured option to recover compensation is to file a lawsuit against the other motorist. Unless they simply have recently lapsed auto insurance, though, it is doubtful that you will recover the compensation that you require from the driver themselves. (If the driver is wealthy, there exists a possibility that you may get the money you need from that driver following a car accident. But if they have the money, they probably have the car insurance.)
Under the insurance code of California, an automobile that is not covered by liability insurance may be considered an uninsured vehicle. This extends to any vehicle where the car insurance coverage was denied for whatever reason or if the insurance policy ends because the insurance company went out of business during the claims process. Hit-and-run vehicles where the driver cannot be identified are considered uninsured motor vehicles.
What Should You Do if You’re in a Motor Vehicle Collision with an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver?
Dealing with an accident involving an underinsured or uninsured motorist can be incredibly stressful and confusing. The first action should always be seeking medical attention for potential injuries. After that, contact personal injury attorneys experienced in handling car crash cases involving underinsured or uninsured parties. Our law firm would be proud to lend legal assistance to you during this time.
While still at the accident scene, document every possible evidence and speak to any eyewitnesses to get their accounts. Any photographs, video recordings, and other pieces of evidence may be beneficial for proving your case later on when you start the claims process.
The first party you should report the accident to is law enforcement. Call 911 if you haven’t already. Then, with that done, contact your insurance company. While the uninsured driver may not have insurance, your insurance policy may include uninsured or underinsured motorist protection coverage, which could be vital in such situations.
What Are the Minimum Policy Terms for California Car Insurance?
Every state requires a certain amount of car insurance coverage. Despite that, it is estimated that 16.6% of the drivers on the road in California are uninsured, one of the highest rates in the country.
The minimum liability insurance policy requirements in the state of California are:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person.
- $30,000 for injury or death to more than one individual.
- $5,000 for property damage.
What Insurance Coverage Could Protect You from
Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers?
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) are insurance policies that aim to protect you from accidents involving uninsured or underinsured motorists.
UM/UIM insurance policies are in effect whether you are driving, walking, or biking throughout California. The policy protects the insurance policyholder, their family members, and any passengers in the car if they are in a car accident with an underinsured or uninsured motorist.
With a successful uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, you may recover economic and non-economic damages suffered because of the accident. The damages that you may be able to recover include lost wages, medical expenses, physical therapy bills, loss of companionship, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.
To file a successful uninsured motorist claim, you must first establish that the uninsured party was at fault and uninsured. You would then file an SR-1 form and obtain an SR-19 form from the DMV. This must be accomplished within the two-year statute of limitations.
To file an underinsured claim against the at-fault party, you must first exhaust the at-fault party’s insurance policy coverage. Then, with proof that the underlying policy has been exhausted, you will make a “timely” demand for UIM arbitration.
Every step of the claims process is made simpler with the help of an experienced car accident attorney. Contact our law firm to learn more about the legal services we offer.
Is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Required in California?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is not required in California. However, California car insurance companies are required to offer it to prospective customers.
UM is required in several states, including Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia.
What if You Were the Victim of a Hit & Run Accident?
Uninsured motorist coverage covers hit-and-run accidents in California. However, the coverage is limited to damages relating to your injuries suffered in the crash. UM coverage will not pay for property damage.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
Car accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers are more legally complex and financially challenging than accidents with adequately insured drivers. Regardless of the insurance coverage situation, we strongly recommend that you consult with our highly skilled legal team if you’ve been the unfortunate victim of an auto accident. But that is especially so if the other driver was uninsured, underinsured, or fled the scene.
Our law firm provides compassionate, dedicated, and aggressive legal representation to all our clients. Schedule a free case review by calling us at (818) 369-3270.