Injured By An Uninsured Motorist? Know Your Rights

Even the best driver can be hit by a driver who is out of control or not paying attention.  This is an irritating fact of life when the only damage is to your car, but it becomes substantially more of an issue if you’re injured.  And if you’re injured by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, it can really become a problem. In situations like this, it’s imperative that you know what your rights are.

Understanding Your Insurance Policy

One option if you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist might be to simply pay for everything yourself.  Although you aren’t required to purchase it, California law requires car insurance companies to offer you coverage for these sorts of situations.  Two types of coverage they are required to offer include:

  1. Uninsured Motorist – Bodily Injury (UMBI) coverage, which pays for injuries to the people in your car if the other driver is at fault but doesn’t have insurance; and
  2. Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, which pays for some medical costs when the other driver has insurance, but not enough to pay for all the damages.

Even if you purchased UMBI or UIM coverage or have other insurance, however, the problem with this approach is that it still leaves you paying for the other driver’s mistake.  And if you don’t have the right kind of insurance with high enough limits, you could be left trying to pay huge medical bills out-of-pocket.

Pursuing Legal Action

The other common option in these kinds of situations is to resort to the legal process.  You may have heard that most lawsuits never go to trial. Part of the reason they don’t is that when someone files a lawsuit, many times it’s clear that the other party is wrong, for instance being hit by an uninsured driver.  When that happens, the two sides can usually come to some form of negotiated settlement without having to go through an entire trial, which can be very expensive.  

If you’ve been injured by a driver without insurance, legal action is definitely an option to consider.  One form of legal action is mediation, where both sides come together with a professional mediator whose job it will be to help the two sides negotiate a settlement.  Mediators are often lawyers, retired judges, or other legal professionals, and can be very helpful in settling a case without going through a trial. But it’s important to know that even though mediation might not seem like a lawsuit, it is a form of legal action and you should have qualified legal counsel before and during the mediation.

Of course, sometimes cases don’t settle, and if you’ve been injured by an uninsured motorist you have the right to sue in California courts to recover your damages.  Our firm’s attorneys have helped hundreds of clients who have been in car accidents with uninsured drivers, including taking their cases to trial and winning. If you’ve been injured by an uninsured driver and have questions about your rights, contact the California personal injury attorneys at J&Y Law today for a free consultation.