Probably once a month I get asked, “Is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount?” And the answer is no. Theoretically. Theoretically, a person could settle their case for one dollar or fifty cents. In the real world, perhaps the…
When you are involved in an automobile accident in the state of California, whoever is at fault for the accident is responsible for paying for it. This means that if a distracted, drunk, or otherwise negligent driver crashes into you, you have the right to file a claim with that driver’s insurance company to recover compensation for your injuries. In fact, the state of California requires that every driver and vehicle owner have either insurance or “proof of financial responsibility” so that in the event they do cause a crash, they can pay for property damage and injuries sustained by others. Unfortunately, not everyone follows this law.
I was Involved in a Car Accident – Other Driver Has Inadequate Insurance
A question I get very frequently is, “What if the person involved has inadequate insurance?” This comes up a fair amount and there are several ways we can obtain full compensation for our client even if the person at fault has inadequate insurance.
First of all, many times our client has their own uninsured motorist insurance. Under California law, uninsured motorist insurance is automatically underinsured motorist insurance, which means that whether the driver has no insurance or not enough insurance to pay for your injuries, you can turn to your own insurance company for compensation. Depending on the limits, your uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance usually can significantly supplement the insurance of the person at fault.
Keep in mind that the state of California does not require that motorists carry uninsured or underinsured coverage. If you do not carry this coverage type and you are in an accident caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver, recovering your full settlement amount may become more difficult. However, all options are not yet exhausted at this point.
What if I was in an accident caused by someone with no insurance?
A very common question is, “What do I do if the person who caused the accident is uninsured?” And, there are several answers to that.
First of all, we don’t always take at face value the statement of the person that they’re uninsured–because it’s rare–but occasionally a person will say they’re uninsured when they really are. A foolish thing to do, but some people do that.
Secondly, if the driver of another car is uninsured there may well be insurance on the car itself–assuming there’s a separate owner–because very often the reason the driver is uninsured is they’re driving their uncle’s car, or their brother’s car, which they know has insurance. As long as they have permission to drive, that car is insured.
Once it’s concluded that there really is no insurance on the car it becomes an uninsured motorist claim under California law, and then we look to your own automobile insurance policy and almost everybody in California who’s insured has uninsured motorist coverage. Some people with very large policy limits. So typically the fact that the other person is uninsured is not a barrier to getting you a good and substantial recovery.
Other Insurance and Recovery Options
When the at-fault party doesn’t have any insurance, or enough insurance to compensate you for your losses, the first thing we look to is your own policy’s uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance; this is usually the best option for recovery.
Secondly, we go into high gear at the point where there’s not enough insurance to see if there is another means to get full compensation for our client. We start an inquiry as to whether the person was on the telephone with their boss for instance, and if so, the employer’s insurance comes into play. Were they delivering something for their boss? This might mean that the driver’s employer is liable under the theory of vicarious liability. Was there a defect in their car caused by a mechanic? If so, that brings in the mechanic’s insurance company, potentially holding the mechanic partially liable for the injury. Was there a road design [issue] or was there a problem with the stop light, which would bring in the city or county’s insurance?
Another option for recovery is once again found in your own insurance policy – if you carry medical payments coverage, which is optional in California, this type of coverage can be used to help pay for injuries sustained by you or your family members or passengers in a crash. This type of coverage will pay for your injuries even if you are found to be at fault.
California also offers drivers the options of purchasing coverage for physical damage sustained by a vehicle, which can also kick in if the other driver’s insurance is inadequate.
Helping You To Get the Compensation You Deserve, Even When the Other Driver is Inadequately Insurance
So, we are quite experienced in looking for other areas of insurance other than just the person who caused the accident. Our investigative team will open an investigation into your case to determine all potential sources of fault, and file claims against all liable parties. In some cases, it is possible to recover compensation from two, three, or even more insurance companies.
We know that being involved in an accident with an insured driver is a very scary thing, and that you may be genuinely worried that you will be unable to recover compensation for your losses because the driver that hit you does not have any/enough insurance to pay for your injuries. If you find yourself in this situation, please contact the law offices of GJEL Accident Attorneys. We are very experienced in finding other sources of insurance to pay our clients’ claims, and promise to work hard for you.