When you’re injured in an auto accident, it can be difficult to think about anything beyond seeking medical attention, which you should do as soon as possible. However, at some point, there’s an expectation that those at fault for the accident will cover the cost of damage to your property, as well as medical bills and other expenses related to your injuries. More to the point, there’s an expectation that their insurance will cover these costs.
What if a driver that is determined to be liable for an auto accident is uninsured? In some states that hold no-fault accident laws, each driver’s insurance will cover their driver’s costs. California, however, has at-fault negligence laws, which means that the person or persons deemed to be at fault for an accident will be held liable.
Although California requires drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of insurance in order to register a vehicle and legally operate it, and insurance providers inform the DMV when you purchase insurance (or if you stop paying), this doesn’t necessarily stop drivers from operating vehicles without insurance.
What happens if you’re involved in an auto accident with an uninsured driver? How can you secure compensation, and how could uninsured driver insurance help?
California Insurance Laws
According to the California State Vehicle Code, drivers hold the financial responsibility for the operation of their vehicle and have to carry proof of insurance within their vehicle while they’re driving it. The easiest way to meet this legal standard is by carrying adequate insurance (although surety bonds, cash or securities, or self-insurance may also be options).
At the very least, California drivers must carry minimum liability coverage in order to meet minimum insurance standards. This type of auto insurance includes minimum bodily injury liability limits of up to $15,000 for a single person suffering injury or death in an accident or up to $30,000 for two or more people suffering injury or death, with the money shared among claimants. It also includes minimum property damage liability limits of up to $5,000 for damage to the property of others (cars, structures, etc.).
Of course, this minimum coverage only fulfills the minimal obligations under the law. It may not be enough to cover the costs resulting from an accident, leaving the at-fault driver liable for additional costs.
Many drivers in high-accident areas like Los Angeles choose to purchase additional coverage, such as comprehensive, collision, and/or personal injury coverage, and more. Drivers may also add uninsured driver coverage to their own policy to account for motorists who operate vehicles without insurance.
What Happens When Uninsured Drivers are Involved in an Accident?
When uninsured drivers are involved in an accident that is reported to the police, they will face penalties for failure to comply with laws regarding established required financial responsibility. If they are unable to show proof of adequate liability insurance, they may be fined, their license may be suspended, and they could have their vehicle impounded.
Unfortunately, none of these penalties includes compensation for property damage or injury, leaving affected drivers and passengers to seek compensation on their own or with the help of a qualified attorney in California.
Recovering Compensation from an Uninsured Driver
There’s nothing to stop you from filing a lawsuit against an uninsured driver that is determined to be at fault for an accident in which you were injured. However, drivers that cannot afford to pay for insurance are unlikely to be able to pay for the damage caused in an accident.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t pursue justice and a judgment, but at the end of the day, you may be unable to recover any actual compensation, leaving you holding the bag for any property damage, medical bills, loss of wages, or other costs and losses resulting from the accident.
How Can Uninsured Driver Insurance Help?
Because it is unlikely that you’ll be able to recover compensation following an accident caused by an uninsured motorist, it’s not a bad idea to take steps to protect yourself in the event of such an accident. The easiest way to do this is by purchasing an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy from your own automobile insurance provider.
In fact, insurance providers in California are required to offer you this coverage – you must sign a waiver if you elect not to purchase it. That should tell you something about the number of uninsured motorists on the road and the risk that you take by turning down this coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured driver insurance includes bodily injuries to yourself and passengers in your vehicle when the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, offering up to $15,000 per person or up to $30,000 per accident. It also covers uninsured motorist property damage, up to $3,500, in the event that you don’t have collision coverage.
Even with this insurance, you may not completely cover the cost of an accident where an uninsured motorist is at fault. If this is the case, you still have the ability to work with a qualified Los Angeles lawyer to seek additional compensation.
If you’re looking for a friendly and experienced law firm that has a proven track record with cases like yours, contact the qualified team at Lalezary Law Firm today at 888-778-8888 or online to request a free consultation. We won’t take any fees unless you win. We Fight. You Win. They Pay.