Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers
California mandates that all drivers must have liability insurance. Many drivers in Southern California ignore the law and drive without insurance or allow their coverage to lapse. This article addresses the rights and remedies a victim of a car collision has against uninsured and underinsured motorists.
California law states that drivers must carry liability insurance in case they hurt someone else. A driver must carry bodily injury liability coverage of at least $15,000.00 per person and $30,000.00 per occurrence. This coverage means that if you suffer damages from an accident, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will pay you up to $15,000.00 to pay for your pay and suffering, and economic losses. If more than one person is injured, the insurer will pay up to $30,000.00 to settle all claims.
The $15,000.00/$30,000.00 limit is just the minimum amount of coverage a driver must carry. Many drivers purchase a lot more insurance.
Unfortunately, many disobey the law and drive without insurance. Others allow their coverage to lapse or expire.
A person injured by an uninsured driver has two options. One option is to pursue the uninsured driver to collect damages. More often than not, this is not a viable option because the uninsured motorist does not have money or other assets to pay for your losses.
The second option is to submit a claim with your insurance company under your uninsured motorist coverage. The coverage will help you obtain financial compensation. Of course, if you don’t have that coverage, your only option is to sue the driver.
What if the at-fault driver has $15,000.00 in coverage and your damages exceed that amount? Regrettably, in many cases, the reason an at-fault driver carried only $15,000 in coverage is that he or she had no money and couldn’t afford better coverage.
Does that let an at-fault driver with only $15,000 in coverage off the hook? No. A negligent driver is responsible for paying all of a victim’s damages, and even if those damages exceed $15,000.00. However, the problem with pursuing the driver is that he or she does not have any money to pay you.
Another option is to seek reimbursement for your damages with your insurance company under your underinsured motorist coverage, assuming you elected to pay for that coverage.
If an uninsured or underinsured motorist has injured you, call MCIS for a free consultation. We can help you decide the best course of action to maximize your recovery.