Find A California Personal Injury Attorney for Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Claims
Getting into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can quickly turn into a nightmare. Moreover, because someone who doesn't have insurance isn't likely to have enough money to pay your damages if you win in court, it's doubtful that you'll be able to bring a solid Personal Injury Claim in California against the driver. So, what choices do you have for recouping your losses?
California's Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Laws
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UIM) is purchased as part of car insurance in California. They're used if you're harmed in an automobile accident caused by a driver who doesn't have insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover your expenditures.
California's UM Laws
If the other driver had insurance, the uninsured motorist policy would cover practically all losses that the other driver's insurance company would have suffered. Moreover, it covers the driver as well as any other passengers in the vehicle. It can even safeguard you in the event of a hit-and-run, a bicycle-motor vehicle collision, or a pedestrian-vehicle collision.
Uninsured motorist coverage only pays for expenditures up to the limit of your UM/UIM policy. As an example, if you paid $50,000 for uninsured motorist coverage, the insurance company is only required to reimburse you up to that amount, regardless of the degree of your damages. Uninsured motorist coverage, if applicable, pays for the following losses:
Expenses for medical treatment incurred as a result of the injuries
Pain and suffering
Wages that have been lost
On the other hand, uninsured motorist coverage does not cover damage to or failure of a vehicle. In most cases, your collision coverage will cover this. Punitive damages, or damages sustained by the other party due to his behavior, are also not covered.
You might be able to seek punitive damages if the insurance company handled the claim in bad faith. Still, any reimbursement will be based solely on their behavior during mediation, not on the injuries you sustained due to the vehicle accident.
If you file an uninsured motorist claim in California, the law prohibits your insurance company from boosting your premiums. Consult a California Personal Injury Lawyer to sort through your options.
California's UIM Laws
Underinsured motorist compensation compensates you for the difference between your damages and the other driver's insurance limits. When you're in a car accident with an underinsured driver, the other motorist's insurance is insufficient to cover your expenses.
Consider the example below:
So, if the losses were $80,000 and the other driver's insurance only covered $25,000, you'd have to file an underinsured motorist claim with your insurer to make up the difference.
On the other hand, your insurance company is only required to pay up to the policy limit. This means that if your responsibility cap for underinsured motorists is $50,000, your insurance company will only pay you $25,000 in compensation.
You have no choice but to resort to arbitration if you and your insurance agent can't agree on repayment for your uninsured and underinsured insurance policy under California law.
Unfortunately, in court, you will not be able to sue for damages under your uninsured/underinsured driver coverage. However, after the arbitration is done, you can bring a case in court against your insurance carrier for bad faith in negotiating payment.
Consult your California Personal Injury Attorney to help you decide your next legal steps.
Uninsured Vs. Underinsured Motorist Coverage
In California, car owners must demonstrate financial responsibility for any vehicle they own to get compensation in the event of third-party injuries or property damage.
Purchasing motor liability insurance is the most common way to meet this responsibility. However, those who refuse to buy motor liability insurance may face fines, license suspensions, and car seizure. In addition, underinsured and uninsured driver insurance can be added to ordinary liability coverage for an additional fee.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage must be provided to policyholders by insurance companies. You are under no obligation to buy it. If you do not wish to buy it, you must clearly reject it and fill out a particular form (or if the company does not want to sell it to you).
When Can You Be Eligible for UM/IUM Insurance Payout?
Your uninsured and underinsured coverage will only kick in if the following requirements are met:
You've been in a car accident with a driver who isn't covered by insurance.
Even though your coverage limits are more extensive than his, the other driver's insurance is insufficient to cover the charges.
You were hurt in a hit-and-run accident in which you made physical contact with the car, and a police complaint was filed within 24 hours.
If your insurance firm is giving you a difficult time claiming these benefits, contact a California Personal Injury Attorney immediately.
Can You Sue An Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist for Damages?
When an uninsured motorist causes a severe accident, the severe injuries, mounting medical expenses, lost wages, and other forms of losses can push entire families into bankruptcy. In addition, claimants may need to consider filing a lawsuit if their insurance claim is not resolved fast.
Insurance companies are notorious for refusing to pay the fair value of claims despite policyholders' years of faithful, on-time premium payments. Instead, they opted to dismiss reasonable charges because the victims were unable or unwilling to fight back.
Unfortunately, carriers' attempts to delay claim processing or engage in particularly egregious practices to frustrate policyholders are far too typical. A dedicated uninsured motorist injury lawyer in California might be a helpful ally. Bringing a bad-faith claim against such an insurer could result in losses significantly above the policy limitations.