Like every state in the union, California requires automobile drivers to carry liability insurance in case of a traffic accident. However, much as there are drivers who continue to use our roads with suspended licenses or without registering their vehicles, far too many choose to take a chance and drive without being properly insured, either in part or at all. When a crash occurs with one of these underinsured or uninsured drivers, you become a victim twice—once due to the accident itself and again when the bills come rolling in and the person responsible doesn’t have the insurance to cover them. Since car accident lawsuits are typically filed against a driver’s insurance and not the driver themselves, what recourse do you have?
Filing an uninsured motorist claim
When an under- or uninsured driver causes an accident, your only option for recovering losses is to file an Uninsured Motorist claim with your own insurance carrier. Assuming you did not actively decline them when purchasing your automobile insurance, your personal policy should include Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage for injuries and property loss, which gives you the right to file claims with your own insurance agency for damages.
If the driver was wholly uninsured, then you would use the UM option to claim everything due to you because of the accident to file against your own carrier. In a situation where the person who struck you had some insurance coverage, but less than a minimum of $15,000 bodily injury or loss of life (per person) coverage or $5,000 for property damage, you would utilize your UIM coverage to file against your insurance for whatever amount is not covered by the responsible motorist’s policy.
You might be wondering whether you can simply seek coverage for your injuries from your private health insurance or a government-sponsored program like Medicare or MediCal. It’s true that these programs will sometimes cover your medical bills regardless of who was at fault for your accident. However, these policies often come with high deductibles and significant copayment expenses, and certain services you require to heal may not be covered. Also, they do not offer any compensation for intangible damages, such as pain and suffering, nor do they cover property losses and damage. Because of these limitations, you will remain saddled with high out-of-pocket expenses if you solely rely on your health insurance post-accident.
Unfortunately, utilizing UM or UIM effectively pits you against your insurer, in that without the ability subrogate expenses, they will fight to reduce the amount paid out to you for your claims. Your insurance carrier will make the process as challenging as possible during a time when you are struggling to recover from injuries, replace your vehicle, and handle all of the bills stemming from the crash with the hope that you will give up and accept a quick, lowball offer of compensation. This is why you still need the assistance of a qualified attorney even when another driver’s insurance company isn’t involved.
Consult a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles
Figuring out how to receive the maximum compensation for your injuries and losses after a crash can be complicated. When an uninsured or underinsured motorist was involved, it becomes even more challenging. Don’t struggle to figure out the best course of action alone. Instead, call Los Angeles automobile accident attorney Scott J. Corwin at (310) 683-2300.