If you were involved in a car accident with an uninsured motorist, you likely feel overwhelmed and confused regarding your next steps. If you were physically injured, you may have medical bills and pain and suffering along with property damage to your vehicle, and even lost wages due to your inability to work. All drivers in California are required by law to have insurance coverage; however many drivers do not maintain car insurance coverage. If you were in an accident with an uninsured motorist, you will have even more complicated matters to address than a typical motor vehicle accident case. The following are 5 things you need to know when hit by an uninsured motorist in Orange County, California.
What Are Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists in California?
An uninsured driver is defined as a person who does not carry car insurance coverage. Underinsured drivers do not have a policy that covers the damages caused by an accident. For example, the State of California states that drivers must carry $15,000 per person and $30,000 per event that requires bodily injury liability coverage. If you suffered serious injuries in a car accident with a driver who was underinsured, they will likely not have enough insurance to cover your medical bills and expenses.
What is Covered by Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured motorist coverage is a portion of a car insurance policy that will cover your expenses related to your injuries or damages if the other driver was either uninsured or underinsured. The State of California requires insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage to drivers; however, this coverage is not mandatory and may be declined. You will need to examine your own car insurance policy to determine if you opted to have uninsured coverage. The following are the types of coverage you may have under your car insurance policy.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Bodily Injury (UMBI) – If you have UMBI insurance, your insurance policy will cover any physical or bodily injuries you or your family members receive as a result of a car crash due to an uninsured driver. UMBI may also cover lost wages due to your inability to work as a result of your injuries, as well as pain and suffering in some cases.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage for Property Damage (UMPD) – If you were in a car accident, you likely have damage to your vehicle. UMPD may pay for the damages to your vehicle which occurred as a result of an uninsured driver, but rarely from a hit-and-run driver. It is important to note that UMPD is not available in all states, however, the State of California does allow UMPD.
What is Covered by Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Underinsured motorist coverage is a portion of a car insurance policy that will cover your expenses related to your injuries or damages if the other driver was underinsured. The State of California requires insurance companies to offer underinsured motorist coverage to drivers, but this coverage is not mandatory and may be declined. You will need to examine your own car insurance policy to determine if you opted to have underinsured coverage.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM) – If you were in a car crash caused by the negligence of an underinsured motorist, your own policy may be able to provide you with compensation for your damages through UIM insurance. This type of insurance will pay for injuries similar to the way UMBI insurance pays for bodily injuries. If the other driver’s insurance fails to completely cover all your injuries and damages, your UIM insurance may compensate you for the remaining amount owed.
Amount of Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage Available in California
California insurers typically offer their customers uninsured and underinsurance policies that equal a driver’s liability policy limits. Additionally, in the State of California, a driver may never collect more for their injuries or damages caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver than the amount of their car insurance’s policy limits.
If a driver in the State of California wants more insurance than the legally allowable uninsured or underinsured coverage, they must purchase an umbrella policy. These umbrella policies are relatively inexpensive and can cover any excess losses under any type of insurance policy that is carried at the maximum available limits.
How to file an Uninsured / Underinsured Claim
If you were in a car accident, you have a responsibility to notify your car insurance company as soon as possible, regardless of fault. Additionally, the State of California requires drivers to file a form SR-1 California accident report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of an accident where any person has been injured or where the property damage exceeds $1,000.
Once you have reported an accident to your insurance company, the police, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles, your insurance company will then begin an investigation. The insurance company will use the police report, any witness statements, photographs, medical records, and an examination of your vehicle to determine fault in your car accident. However, it is important to note that your car insurance’s determination of fault is not necessarily the final decision. The other driver also has the right to file a lawsuit to challenge their findings.
As a final note, even if you were partially to blame for your car accident, you will still be able to obtain compensation for your injuries under California’s comparative fault laws, which state that you will be able to receive monetary recoveries for the percentage you were determined not to be at fault in the car accident.
Contact Silverthorne Attorneys Today
If you were in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, contact Silverthorne Attorneys today. Our experienced personal injury lawyers can offer you a complimentary consultation of your case and help you with your next steps. Call us at (949) 234-6034 or use our contact form found here today.