What If the Driver Who Hit Me Doesn't Have Enough Insurance?
After being in a car accident, most drivers in California know to swap identifying and insurance information. This is the first step in seeking damages caused by the neglectful driver, as the insurance company will actually be the party that pays you, not the driver individually. However, not everyone obeys the law and buys car insurance before traveling public roads. Indeed, some statistical estimations put the number of uninsured motorists across America at around 10%. What are you supposed to do if you are unfortunate enough to be struck by one of the millions of uninsured motorists?
UM & UIM Insurance Coverage
California does not use a system of mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. When you get hurt in an accident or your car is damaged, the liable party is expected to pay accordingly through insurance policy payouts. If the driver has no insurance (uninsured motorist or UM) or has insurance that does not reach the legal limit of the state (underinsured motorist or UIM), where the payout comes from will vary.
The first possibility is checking to see if you have UM/UIM coverage as part of your own insurance plan. This coverage option is rarely standard and has to be added on for additional monthly premiums. It is widely recommended that you do add UM/UIM coverage to your insurance policy since your odds of needing it in an accident are roughly one-in-ten. If you do have this type of coverage, your insurance company should pay for damages up to your policy’s cap, minus deductibles. Do not be surprised if they put up some resistance that requires a lawyer’s intervention.
Individual Lawsuits as a Last Resort
Your second option for pursuing damages comes into play if you do not have UM/UIM coverage and the driver that hit you has no insurance at all. As with an accident of any sort, the party liable could be targeted directly by a lawsuit in pursuit of compensation. This is not ideal, though, since individuals typically can only afford to pay out amounts significantly lower than an insurance company. On the other hand, never assume that a claim targeted the person who struck you is futile. You should always discuss your possible options with a personal injury attorney.
If you were struck by an uninsured or underinsured motorist in Southern California, contact the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg today. During a free initial consultation, our team of Orange County car accident attorneys can help you determine if you have a valid claim, and what party should be the one that provides you with compensation.