What happens if get into an accident with an Uninsured driver?
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Most people wouldn’t think twice about driving a car without carrying valid car insurance. Not only does insurance help to protect others and ourselves, here in California, it is also required by law. Even then, some people continue to drive without insurance. When uninsured drivers cause accidents, it creates even bigger issues, particularly for their victims.
For people who have been involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, there are options for pursuing recovery. While it may be pointless to file a claim against the uninsured driver, you still may be able to seek damages from your own insurance company.
California law requires all drivers to carry and maintain at least:
Bodily Injury Liability – $15,000 minimum per person and a minimum of at least $30,000 per accident (better known as the "15/30 policy"); and
Property Damage Liability – $5,000 minimum
As stated above, this minimum insurance coverage is the law here in California, and the law states that those who fail to obtain and maintain proper coverage could be ticketed by police, have their license suspended, and potentially face jail time.
If you are ever involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, note the following. Contact the police in order to procure a police report. While each policy is different, some Uninsured Motorist policies may require a police report to provide coverage. You should also take detailed notes, take pictures, get witness names, record information about the accident scene, and take pictures of the uninsured driver's license and license plate.
It should be noted that even if the other at-fault driver is uninsured, you may still obtain the necessary treatment for your injuries and have your car repaired. However, your insurance policy must contain Uninsured Motorist coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage ("UM/UIM"), is a type of insurance coverage that will pay for property damage or bodily injury if you are in an accident with a person who does not have car insurance ("UM"), or whose insurance is insufficient to meet all of your expenses ("UIM"). It will also cover your damages if you are in a hit-and-run accident or if the at-fault driver in a collision is otherwise unknown.
It should be noted, however, that unlike standard automobile insurance, California law does not require drivers to carry UM/UIM coverage. Therefore, not everyone involved in an accident with an uninsured driver will be able to recover for treatment expenses. Therefore, it is a wise decision to include UM/UIM coverage on your insurance policy.
As with any other area of law, the topic of UM/UIM coverage can get confusing and difficult to understand. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.