A Crash Course in California Automobile Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
Automobile accidents can happen to anyone. You’re driving through an intersection when suddenly your car is hit by another vehicle, causing extensive damage to your car and bodily injury to yourself. But what happens if the motorist at fault is uninsured? How do you receive adequate compensation for the damage and injury caused by the accident?
It literally pays to consider these questions because uninsured motorists are everywhere. If someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident in the United States, odds are roughly one in seven that the at-fault driver is uninsured. And the numbers just keep rising. The Insurance Research Council reports that the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists has risen dramatically over the past decade. In 1999, 12.7 percent of motorists were uninsured; this number is expected to jump to 16 percent in 2010.
Uninsured Motorists in California.
Uninsured motorists are of special concern to residents of California. Over a quarter of the drivers on California’s roads are uninsured. This means your chance of being involved in an automobile accident with an uninsured motorist in California is shockingly high. Indeed uninsured or inadequately insured drivers cause nearly one out of every two car accidents.
California law requires anyone who operates a motor vehicle on the public streets or highways to bear some form of financial responsibility. For the majority of drivers the financial responsibility requirement is satisfied by maintaining automobile liability insurance. Drivers must show evidence of automobile insurance coverage in order to register their motor vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Uninsured motorist coverage is a part of almost every automobile policy sold in California. In fact, your insurance company is required by law to include uninsured motorist coverage as part of every automobile policy written, unless you explicitly decline it in writing.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Who Is Covered?
When you purchase uninsured motorist coverage as part of your policy, it grants coverage to you and all members of your family who reside in your household. Uninsured motorist coverage also typically includes any children who do not reside in your household.
Uninsured motorist coverage also covers other passengers in your car, as well as other people driving your car with your permission. What’s more, uninsured motorist coverage will make you eligible for benefits even if you weren’t an automobile driver or passenger. You also will be eligible for benefits if you are involved in an accident as any of the following:
- A pedestrian
- A bicyclist
- A motorcyclist
- A bystander
As long as the motorist who caused your injuries was uninsured and you have uninsured motorist coverage, you are eligible for compensation from your insurance company.
However, there is no minimum coverage amount by law. Many policies have $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident as the coverage limit, though. The specific terms of each policy determine the actual coverage.
Three Types of Uninsured Vehicles
There are three types of vehicles that fall under the category of “uninsured.” These are:
- Vehicles that are not covered by insurance in a state that requires automobile insurance;
- Vehicles used in hit-and-run incidents, where the identity of the driver is unknown; and
- Stolen vehicles.
The Top 10 Things To Do If You Are In A Car Accident
If you are in an accident with a motor vehicle, make sure you do these 10 things:
- Most importantly, if you or a passenger is able to, use your cell phone’s notes feature to record statements of anyone at the scene, especially the driver you believe to be at fault.
- Seek medical attention. If you are injured, immediately visit an emergency room. Emergency room reports of your injuries will be essential in determining the amount of compensation you may receive from an insurance claim. Make sure medical reports are as detailed and accurate as possible;
- Remain at the scene of the accident;
- File a police report;
- For each driver involved, write down the driver’s name, address, telephone number, date of birth, driver’s license number and the expiration dates of their driver’s license and vehicle registration;
- Take pictures of all driver’s license, registration and insurance cards;
- Take pictures of the accident scene;
- Take pictures of the other vehicles, including their license plates and vehicle identification numbers;
- For each vehicle involved, write down the make, model, license plate number and vehicle identification numbers; and
- Write down the names and contact information of any and all witnesses.
Your insurance company expects you to provide them with as many details about the accident as you can. Because it is often hard to retain accurate memories of an accident, it’s important that you keep a running log of the details related to your accident.
Involved in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist? Contact an Attorney
Filing an insurance claim for an accident in California involving an uninsured motorist can be an often complicated and frustrating experience. Insurance adjusters usually have no specialized legal or medical training and therefore are likely to underestimate the amount of compensation due to you for your injuries and damages.
That is why it is important for you consult with an attorney trained in the rules and regulations governing automobile accidents involving uninsured drivers. Only an automobile accident lawyer can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve for injuries sustained in an accident involving an uninsured driver. If you or a loved one has been involved in an automobile accident involving an uninsured driver, contact your local automobile accident attorney today.
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