The lockdown certainly shaped Americans’ driving habits, but it’s expected that many people don’t realize the potential consequences of being on the road while the impact of COVID continues on through today. As traffic returns to near normal levels and people flock back to public transportation as it becomes available, it’s also important to think about the possibility of being hurt in an accident.
There are some drivers on the road that do not currently have insurance which means that uninsured or underinsured motorists or gap coverage is even more important as a California driver. You’ll want to reevaluate your current insurance situation and decide whether you need supplemental coverage to protect yourself in the event of an accident.
If you head out for any reason on the roads and wind up in an accident, make sure you know your rights if the other person didn’t have enough insurance coverage.
Basic California Laws About Insurance
Any vehicle that you own means that you must show financial responsibility. Your auto insurance policy explains your costs, coverages and any necessary exclusions. It’s important to recognize that auto insurance policies in California can vary a lot but all of them must meet the California minimums.
While you have coverage of your own, you cannot guarantee that another person you get into an accident with does meet the minimum coverage requirements. This can leave you on the hook for big medical bills.
Liability Coverage Under California Law
Liability coverage is the coverage that kicks in to pay for damages or injuries to others when you are responsible for the accident. If you drive and own a vehicle, you must follow financial responsibility laws outlined in the California Vehicle Code by purchasing auto liability coverage. In California this includes:
- $15,000 for the death of or injury to any one person.
- A total of $30,000 in payments for the injury to or death of more than one person in an accident.
- If two or more people are injured, then this coverage will pay a maximum of $30,000 and the injured parties must share the money.
- This coverage applies specifically to those injuries that you caused to someone else.
Damage Liability Policies Under California Law
Your minimum property damage liability limits include:
- $5,000 for damage to the property of other people,
- Which helps with damage caused to someone else’s car or structures or objects that your car hits.
Why You Might Need Uninsured Motorists Coverage
Uninsured Motorists’ Coverage, UMC, and Underinsured Motorists’ Insurance, UIM, are optional types of coverage even though insurance companies in California must offer this to you.
If you choose not to purchase the insurance after it has been offered to you, you will need to sign a waiver. Uninsured motorist’s bodily injury coverage pays for injuries to you and any person in your car when there is an accident in which an uninsured vehicle driver is at fault.
The limits will be the same as your liability coverage limits. For uninsured motorists’ coverage, this pays for costs for bodily injuries if you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have appropriate insurance to pay for damage. When it comes to uninsured motorist’s property damage, this pays for the damage to your vehicle from an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, with a maximum of $3,500.
This will only pay out if the uninsured driver is identified and if you have collision coverage you may not need this. Additional kinds of coverage might be available to you in your insurance policy, recognizing that some parties may skip out on the necessary insurance coverage to protect them or you behind the wheel.
Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Driver?
It can be an unwelcome surprise to discover that a driver with whom you’ve just recently been involved in an accident with doesn’t have appropriate insurance. The at fault driver can face penalties from the state of California for failure to obtain insurance but these penalties are not given to you to help pay for your injuries or medical care.
If a driver doesn’t have insurance, this is often an indication that they do not have financial resources available even to pay for the insurance coverage, which means that filing a personal injury lawsuit might not be the most appropriate option of recovery. This is why it is strongly recommended that you buy and maintain an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.
What to Do When You Hit an Uninsured Driver?
There are a couple of different steps you should take even after being in an accident with an uninsured driver. First pf all, report the accident to the police. Even minor accidents should still be reported to the police. Always seek medical care for your injuries even if you are concerned about how you might pay for care. A personal injury lawyer might be able to guide you through the process of recovering compensation and the options available to you.
Sources of compensation in this kind of case can include your health insurance, your uninsured or underinsured motorists’ coverage, your MedPay coverage or your physical damage coverage. You’ll want to walk through all of these aspects with your personal injury lawyer so that you have a good perspective on how to interact with the insurance company. To better protect yourself with those drivers on the road who might not have appropriate coverage, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer.
Our law office has guided numerous different clients through the process of figuring out how to proceed with a legal claim; if you don’t know what to do after being involved in an accident with someone who didn’t have the right insurance coverage, you need a guide to help you through the legal system.
For more support and the chance to get your questions answered around a California uninsured motorist claim, schedule a consultation with our office today. Our law firm has a track record of helping victims with their injury claims so that you can focus on getting better and your recovery.