If you live in California and you are involved in a car accident, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying for it. However, drivers rarely pay for accidents that they cause out of pocket – instead, they turn to their auto insurance liability policies to pay for damages.
What happens, though, if you are involved in a crash caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance? Unless that driver happens to have thousands of extra dollars’ worth of cash lying around, how will your injuries and losses be paid for?
What You Need to Know About Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured motorist coverage is something you can buy from your insurance company to protect you in the event that you are injured in an accident by a person without insurance. You can buy as little as $15,000 per person up to as much as $7 million per person. It is a relatively inexpensive form of coverage to buy and I encourage people to buy as much of it as they can afford.
There are three types of uninsured motorist coverage. These are:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) – This is coverage for you or your passenger when you are involved in an accident caused by someone who does not have bodily injury liability insurance, and you suffer physical injuries.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM) – This type of coverage pays for costs of your injuries when you are involved in an accident with an at-fault party who does not have enough insurance to pay for your injuries.
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) – If your vehicle is damaged in a crash and the party at fault for your accident does not carry property damage liability insurance, your UMPD coverage will kick in. It is important to note that UMPD is only available in an amount of up to $3,500, and only kicks in if the at-fault driver is identified (if the crash is a hit and run and the at-fault driver is not identified, this coverage type doesn’t apply).
But Can’t I Just File a Lawsuit Against the At-fault Driver?
If you’re injured by an uninsured driver, and you’re unable to work and unable to pay your medical bills, it doesn’t do you much good to get a judgment against the at-fault person because if they have no money (which is likely, as they didn’t even have insurance) and they file for bankruptcy, that judgment is worthless. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can collect from your own insurance company the amount that person would have owed you and then it’s your insurance company’s problem to see if they can collect from that person.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage Required?
No, uninsured motorist coverage is not required in California, but the state does require that your insurance company offer it to you. If you do not want this coverage type, you must reject uninsured motorist coverage in writing.
Is Uninsured Motorist Coverage the Only Way to Pay for Property Damage and Injuries if I am in a Crash with an Uninsured Driver?
No – while uninsured motorist coverage is one of the best ways to ensure that you have a way of paying for your losses if the driver who hits you is uninsured, medical payments coverage and collision coverage can also help to pay for injuries and property damage, respectively, in a crash. What’s more, these coverage types apply regardless of fault.
Contact the Offices of GJEL Accident Attorneys Today to Learn More
If you are in a crash with an uninsured driver in California and have questions about how you will recover a settlement and what your options are, contact the offices GJEL Accident Attorneys for your free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers. We have the legal answers you are looking for to tough questions about the claims process after a crash.