Underinsured/Uninsured Accidents

Suffering injuries in a car accident is a painful and traumatic experience. Often the distress of a car accident continues even months later when medical bills begin piling up, you’ve missed paychecks during your recovery, and you may be facing an uncertain future with potential disability depending on the severity of your injury. But at least you can file a claim against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for those damages with the assistance of an experienced Encino car accident attorney. But what if you discover that the responsible driver’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover your damages, or even worse, that they have no insurance at all?

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What Happens When an At-Fault Driver is Underinsured?

Every U.S. state has a minimum insurance requirement for drivers. For instance, California only requires drivers to carry $15,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $30,000 in total bodily injury per accident. This means a majority of California drivers are woefully underinsured considering the reality of today’s medical costs. Many of today’s drivers have let their insurance lapse and illegally drive uninsured.

What happens if you’re in an accident and your medical bills and lost wages add up to $100,000, but the driver who caused the accident only has $15,000 in bodily injury coverage? Fortunately, underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage is included in every California driver’s policy unless they intentionally waive this coverage in writing. Most uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage provides at least the standard amount of $30,000, but many wise California drivers choose larger policies.

In the above example, you’d recover $15,000 from the at-fault driver and then file an underinsured motorist claim against your own policy to recover the maximum available amount in your underinsured/uninsured motorist policy. Even with the minimum coverage you’d recover a total of $45,000.

What Happens When a Negligent Driver is Uninsured?

Recent data suggests that nearly 17 percent of California drivers are uninsured. If you have an accident with an uninsured motorist, you must report it to your insurance company. You may need to submit a copy of the police report of the accident to your insurer as well. When an uninsured driver causes serious injury, you must rely on your uninsured motorist coverage to provide compensation for your damages. If you’ve chosen to add collision insurance, you may be able to make an additional claim against that coverage.

In less common cases, you could file a personal lawsuit against the driver at fault for the accident. However, most uninsured drivers are not in a financial position to make a lawsuit worthwhile. This may only be a viable option for an at-fault driver with plentiful assets who accidentally allowed their policy to lapse.

Finally, a third-party claim against another party may be a viable option. For instance, if a faulty car part on the vehicle of the uninsured driver contributed to the accident, you could recover compensation from a defective product claim against the manufacturer.

How Do I Know the Best Way to Recover Compensation After an Accident With an Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist?

Car accident claims in California are always challenging. Under the state’s pure comparison negligence insurance laws, insurance companies are incentivized to reduce the amount they pay out on a claim by assigning victims a portion of fault in an accident. When the at-fault driver is underinsured or uninsured, the claim becomes even more complex. It’s more important than ever to have experienced legal representation after an accident with an at-fault driver without adequate insurance. An Encino personal injury attorney pursues all avenues for compensation to maximize the amount you recover for your damages.

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