After a traffic accident, your first concern is most likely whether you sustained injuries and need medical care. However, once you are stable, you may worry about how you will pay the medical bills and other expenses from the car accident.
You may also assume the other driver’s insurance company will compensate you for your losses. However, what happens when the driver doesn’t have insurance coverage? What should you do?
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Fault vs. No-Fault Insurance Coverage
A few states have no-fault insurance laws that require drivers to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or another type of no-fault insurance coverage. No-fault insurance pays the covered party regardless of who caused the accident.
However, California is an at-fault car insurance state. In an at-fault state, accident victims file claims with the insurance company for the driver who caused the car crash. They can also sue the at-fault driver for damages.
California Minimum Requirements for Insurance Coverage
California requires drivers to have an acceptable form of insurance for car accidents. The types of insurance coverage you can choose from are:
- Automobile liability insurance policy
- DMV-issued self-insurance certificate
- A cash deposit with the DMV of $35,000
- A surety bond in the amount of $35,000
Most drivers purchase a car insurance policy through an insurance company. The minimum amount of bodily insurance coverage is $15,000 ($30,000 per accident). The policy must also include $5,000 in property damage coverage.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in California
Your insurance company is required to offer you uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage when you purchase a liability insurance policy. You can decline uninsured or underinsured coverage by signing a waiver. However, this optional insurance coverage is usually inexpensive compared to the protection it offers.
An uninsured motorist insurance policy pays your damages if you are hit by an uninsured driver. The policy also covers accidents caused by hit-and-run drivers. Underinsured motorist coverage pays the difference between what the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays and your actual damages up to your policy limits.
Filing a Claim After an Accident Caused by an Uninsured Driver
If the other driver does not have insurance, notify your insurance provider you are filing a claim against your uninsured motorist coverage. Before you can receive compensation for the accident, you must prove the following:
- The other driver did not have insurance coverage;
- The other driver caused the car accident; and
- You sustained damages.
Proving that the other driver caused the car crash could be challenging. Even though you are filing a claim with your insurance provider, it does not mean the insurance company won’t try to get out of paying the claim or paying less than the injury claim is worth. Consulting with a San Diego personal injury attorney can help ensure you receive a fair settlement for your car accident claim.
What Damages Can I Receive for an Uninsured Motorist Claim in San Diego?
Once you prove that you did not cause the accident, your insurance company should treat the claim like a liability insurance claim. It should compensate you for your economic and non-economic damages. The damages could include:
- Medical bills, including ongoing care and treatment
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Cost of personal care and nursing care
- A decrease in quality of life
- Mental anguish
- Disfigurement and scarring
The amount of your insurance settlement depends on several factors, including the severity of your injuries and your insurance policy limits. Our legal team helps you document your damages to maximize the settlement offer.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Driver
You can also file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident seeking damages. Your attorney can discuss the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit and if it is worth the time and effort.
If the person does not have insurance, they may not have the resources of income to pay a personal judgment. Therefore, filing a lawsuit might not be the best option to recover compensation.
Suing Other Parties for an Uninsured Motorist Accident
For example, the driver’s employer could be liable for damages pursuant to vicarious liability. A trucking company could be responsible for damages if its truck driver ran a red light and caused an accident.
Likewise, a product manufacturer could be liable if a defective car part contributed to the cause of the crash. For instance, a defective airbag, tire, or brake system contributed to the cause of your injuries.
Sometimes, a government entity could be partially to blame for the cause of a traffic accident. The city might not have replaced a malfunctioning traffic light or adequately maintained the roads.
A thorough independent investigation is required to assess all possible legal claims when an uninsured driver causes an accident. Otherwise, you might not receive the maximum compensation available for your car accident claim.
What Should I Do if the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
California law requires drivers to stop when they are involved in an accident. The drivers must exchange information, but police officers typically handle this requirement when investigating crashes.
If the other driver does not have insurance, let the police officer handle the matter. Do not confront the driver or become hostile. Instead, focus on documenting the accident scene by making a video and taking photographs.
See a doctor as soon as possible if you do not go directly to the emergency room for medical treatment. Prompt medical care helps create the link between the accident and your injuries. You must prove the accident caused your injuries to receive compensation.
If you talk with an insurance adjuster, be careful what you say. Your insurance company might use your statements to accuse you of causing the accident. Unfortunately, it is a common tactic used by many insurance providers.
Call our office to speak with a member of our legal team and schedule an appointment with an attorney. Your initial consultation does not cost you anything, but it benefits you to have legal advice when deciding what to do after an uninsured driver hits your car.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer
Being in a car crash can be overwhelming and life-altering. At Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, we handle all aspects of your car accident case. Call our law office at (619) 777-5555 to schedule your free case evaluation with one of our San Diego car accident attorneys.