What Happens if I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver in CA?
After a car accident, you’ll have a lot on your mind. Getting your car fixed, seeing a doctor, getting treatment, recovering from your injuries, getting back to work, etc. Ideally, the at-fault driver will have proper insurance coverage so that you do not have to worry as much about the financial impact. Unfortunately, not all drivers in California carry auto insurance, even though they are required to do so. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, what are your options? Are you left to pay for your bills alone, out of pocket? Below, we discuss your options for obtaining compensation and coverage after an accident with an uninsured driver. If you’ve been hit by an uninsured or otherwise negligent driver in Southern California, call an experienced Calabasas car accident attorney.
California’s Insurance Requirements
California law requires all drivers to maintain a minimum level of auto liability insurance. Liability insurance compensates people other than the policyholder should the policyholder be at fault for an accident. It’s against the law to drive in California without the minimum coverage. As of 2022, the minimum coverage required in California is as follows:
- $15,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident (multiple people)
- $5,000 for property damage
Recovering From Your Own Insurance
Auto insurance companies in California offer drivers supplemental insurance beyond the minimum required. Drivers can (and should) get coverage in excess of the minimum amounts, and they can take advantage of additional coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists (UM/UIM). The extra coverage is not mandatory, but it is extremely valuable should you find yourself in an accident with a driver who is uninsured, or if you are the victim of a hit and run.
UM/UIM insurance is exactly what it sounds like: auto insurance coverage for the policyholder that applies when someone else is at fault but that person lacks the insurance necessary to compensate the policyholder, or that driver/other at-fault party cannot be found. Filing a claim with your own auto insurance company is known as filing a “first-party” claim (as opposed to filing a “third-party” claim with someone else’s insurance). Your UM/UIM will cover your medical costs and other related expenses up to your policy limits, should you not be able to recover from another insured driver.
You also have the option of covering your medical care through your health insurance provider if you have health insurance. If you have UM/UIM coverage, your health insurer will expect you to go to your auto insurer first, but if you do not have UM/UIM, your health insurance will cover your medical bills.
Suing an Uninsured Driver and Other Third Parties
It’s important to keep in mind that, even if the at-fault driver was uninsured, they are still legally responsible for your injuries. They are still legally responsible for covering your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other injury-related costs and damages. You can, with the help of a seasoned personal injury lawyer, file a claim directly against an uninsured driver.
The reason that insurance matters, however, is that it’s unlikely the uninsured driver will have enough money to compensate you out-of-pocket. Chances are if someone is driving without insurance, it’s because they cannot afford insurance or otherwise are not simply flush with cash. You may be able to collect some portion of what you are owed, but it’s unlikely you will get all of your bills and other damages compensated.
If another party was also responsible or partially responsible for your accident, however, you may have better luck getting compensation. If your accident was caused by a defective vehicle, for example, you may have a claim against the auto manufacturer (or your car or the other driver’s). You may even have a claim against the city if your accident was caused by a defective road or dangerously-designed intersection. A seasoned California auto accident lawyer can help you explore your options and pursue all possibilities to obtain a full recovery.
If you or someone you love has been injured by a negligent driver in Southern California, call an efficient and effective auto accident attorney at the Halpern Law Firm. We fight for the compensation you and your family deserve. Contact us at (818) 785-5999 today. These cases are handled on a contingency basis, meaning you won’t be charged any attorney’s fees unless we win.