Uninsured Motorist

What are my rights if I am injured by an uninsured motorist?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

California law requires all drivers to show financial responsibility over the vehicles they own. Financial responsibility is evidenced by auto liability insurance for injuries and property damage in case of an accident. However, not all drivers in California have insurance cover. This complicates matters for people who do have insurance cover but have collided with another driver who doesn’t have any cover. What do you do?

If you’ve been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are avenues you can take to claim against your own insurer or even the other driver at fault. However, this may mean haggling with insurance companies, lots of paperwork and possibly dealing with a bankruptcy proceeding if the uninsured driver files for bankruptcy to save his skin. The best thing to do if you’ve been in an accident with an uninsured driver is to retain an experienced California personal injury lawyer immediately. Let your lawyer do the heavy lifting for you while you concentrate on recovering.

California Auto Insurance Liability Coverage

California’s Vehicle Code prescribes financial responsibility laws requiring drivers to take liability coverage to pay for injuries or damage to property arising from accidents whereby they are responsible. Auto liability coverage insurance does just that. While drivers can opt for any policy they fancy, there are prescribed minimum covers. These are:

  • $15,000 for bodily injuries or death
  • $30,000 for death or injury of two or more persons
  • $5,000 for damage to other people’s property.

These apply to injuries and damage to property incurred by the other driver. That means if you get involved in an accident with an at-fault insured driver, these covers apply to you. If the driver is uninsured, different rules apply.

Rights of Drivers Involved in Accidents with Uninsured Drivers

  1. Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC)

California drivers have the option of getting UMC cover when they sign up for auto insurance. The insurer is obligated to present the driver with the option of purchasing UMC but the driver can opt in or out.

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver and you have UMC, your own insurer will pay for the injuries you or any of your passengers incurs, up to the extent of the policy limits.

UIM will cover your medical expenses, lost wages and other economic and non-economic damages, up to the cover limits. Basically, it steps in for the liability coverage the at-fault driver’s insurer would have paid if the driver was insured.

  1. Collision coverage

UIM does not cover car damage and other associated costs such as towing. However, if you have collision coverage, your insurer pays for collision damage minus a deductible.

  1. Medical payments coverage

If you have this coverage, your medical expenses and those of any other passenger in the vehicle will be met by your insurer, regardless of fault, up to the policy limit.  

  1. Health insurance

If you have personal or work-related health cover, say from your job, it will cover the medical expenses minus deductibles and medical payments already made by other insurers such as UIM.

  1. File suit

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver and you do not have UIM or any of the above covers, you can opt to file suit against the at-fault driver. An experienced California personal injury attorney will guide you on how to file the lawsuit to ensure you get adequate compensation for your injuries and property damages.  Contact the California personal injury attorneys at J&Y Law today for a free case evaluation.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.