How to Handle a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver in California
After a car accident, one question always comes up: Is the other driver insured? Being in a car accident is stressful enough, but what if the at-fault driver is not insured, and also broke? It is a natural concern because without auto insurance, it can be practically impossible to recover compensation from an at-fault negligent driver. There are many reasons why someone may fail to carry insurance, but unless that person is independently wealthy and has sizeable assets, you could be on the hook for all of your own medical bills and damages.
Fortunately, with the help of a good uninsured motorist insurance lawyer, most people are still able to recover compensation for their losses. The process will look a little different in each case.
Remedies for Collecting Compensation from an Uninsured Driver in California
First, understand that everyone is technically accountable for his or her own actions: That is the law. Of course, as the old expression goes, you can not get blood from a turnip. There are many reasons why people fail to carry insurance, including:
Lack of money
Forgot to make payments
Thought they were covered by someone else’s policy
Set up direct deposit but payment did not go through
Dropped by insurance company
Undocumented immigrant or unlicensed driver unable to obtain coverage
Whatever the reasons for not carrying insurance, as you can likely tell from the list, people who fail to carry insurance frequently are struggling financially. Therefore, if you suffer a serious injury, do not expect to get anything out of an uninsured motorist. Even if you sue and obtain a judgment, there is a real chance that the at-fault party in your case will be “judgment proof.”
What is “Judgment Proof” and Why Should I Care?
Someone is judgment proof if he or she possesses fewer assets than the state’s exemptions. In California, even if you get a judgment against an uninsured driver, the first $75,000 of home equity can not be attached. A quick review of a full list of exemptions should demonstrate that it can be hard to collect money from an uninsured driver. This just means you will probably need to figure out a different way to collect your compensation.
Is There Any Way to Get Compensation?
Yes. There often is another way to seek compensation. You will need to file a claim with your own insurance carrier for something called “uninsured motorist insurance.” While it is not mandatory to carry UM in California it is highly recommended for this very purpose.
How do I Handle an Accident With an Uninsured Driver?
First, you will want to get ahold of the police report and take some photos at the scene. Documentation is everything. You need proof that the other driver has no insurance. Next, you will need to let your own insurance company know about the accident. They will establish an uninsured motorist claim, and an adjuster will be assigned to your case.
Before any of this happens, though, you should really consider hiring a skilled auto accident lawyer who can help to prevent you from making critical errors that can hurt your case, even when dealing with your own insurance company.
One big difference in handling uninsured motorist claims is that you will only be dealing with your own insurance company. Your insurance policy likely has language requiring you to “cooperate” with the insurance company’s investigation. Still, you have a right to legal representation. You may need to give a recorded statement and provide other helpful information, but your attorney can guide you and help with this.
How can I Protect Myself in the Future?
Your best protection is to carry a significant uninsured motorist insurance policy. Preferably, you should carry enough insurance that if a drunk and uninsured motorist put you in the hospital, your policy would provide enough money to cover it.
Must-Have Insurance Coverage for LA Drivers
With the high traffic volume in Los Angeles, every driver really should carry uninsured motorist coverage. You should also seriously think about adding underinsured motorist insurance if you do not already have it.
Uninsured motorist coverage pays when the other driver has no insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage helps to fully compensate you when the other driver has inadequate or low insurance.
Get Aggressive Legal Help Now
Do not just wait to find out whether the insurance company will respond or offer to pay your injury claim. Call the Law Offices of Jake D. Finkel to speak with a skilled and experienced lawyer today.