What Happens After An Accident With An Uninsured Driver
No matter how prepared you think you are for an accident, it can still catch you off guard. While there’s no way to stop the inevitable, you can still take control of your life after a car accident by fighting for compensation for your losses. However, what happens after a car accident with an uninsured driver?
One way to recover damages is through insurance policies. State laws require drivers to obtain car insurance, and though not all drivers have them, that doesn’t mean that your damages cannot be covered.
Read on to find out what happens after an accident with an uninsured driver, including the legal options you have at your disposal in case you get involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver in California.
Understanding Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Policies
Not every driver has sufficient car insurance. The Insurance Research Council found that in 2019 as many as 13% of drivers, or one in eight, do not have insurance. This leads those who do to wonder, “Will my insurance cover an uninsured driver?”
Uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for damages that you, your loved ones, or passengers in your car incur after an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t have insurance. In California, uninsured motorist coverage is optional if available.
There are two types of uninsured motorist coverage:
Uninsured Motorist Insurance (UM)
If the other driver is at fault and has no insurance, uninsured motorist insurance covers the incurred damages. It prevents you from spending your own money on car repair and medical costs.
A UM policy covers the following damages:
- Injuries or damages suffered by you, family members in your household, or other passengers
- Medical bills, pain, and suffering, lost wages due to missing work, and funeral expenses (if bodily injury policy)
- Damages to your car or personal property, but you may have a deductible (if property damage policy)
How Does a UM Policy Work?
The coverage offered by a UM policy varies by state and insurance carrier. For example, in some states, you have the option to purchase a bodily injury UM policy and/or a property damage UM policy. These options provide you with wider recovery options.
In any case, UM coverage is expressed as two numbers. Take 100/300, for example. Such a policy would mean that anyone involved in the wreck would be covered for up to $100,000 in bodily injury claims, but that policy would max out at $300,000 per accident.
So if you had four people in your car during an auto accident with an uninsured driver, a $300,000 limit might not be enough. In some cases, your health insurance policy may make up the difference.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
Unlike uninsured motorist policies, underinsured motorist coverage pays for the difference between another driver’s insurance coverage and the extent of your damages. But just like UM policies, a UIM policy only kicks in when the other driver is at fault.
However, this type of policy is not enough to cover the injuries sustained from the accident. It only serves as an add-on to your auto insurance policy if the driver at fault lacks sufficient coverage.
How Does a UIM Policy Work?
After filing an insurance claim, your provider will contact the other party to know if the driver has enough insurance to cover your expenses. If it doesn’t have enough coverage, the UIM policy comes into play, depending on your policy limit.
If your total damages reach $200,000 and the at-fault driver has insurance covering only half of it, you may claim the balance from your own insurance. Remember that you are not allowed to claim more than the actual costs of your medical costs and other damages obtained from the accident.
What Happens if You’re Uninsured But Are Driving an Insured Car?
If you’re hurt in an uninsured driver accident but live in the same household as the car’s owner, it’s possible that you can be covered by the insurance of the car you’re driving, even if you’re uninsured.
You don’t need a separate policy if you have permissive use under the owner’s policy. For instance, if you’re considered a primary driver of the family or the owner, you can be included in the car insurance.
However, if none of the above scenarios apply, you may face serious consequences after getting involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. In California, you cannot be jailed for driving without insurance, but you may still be faced with the following:
- A fine between $100 and $200, up to $500 if you are caught for the second time
- License suspension can only be reinstated once your insurance company files on your behalf
- Vehicle Impoundment
Is UM or UIM Coverage Mandatory in California?
Not all states require UM or UIM coverage, including California. However, drivers need auto insurance to drive legally.
According to California Vehicle Code 16028, you must carry proof of financial responsibility, such as automobile insurance documentation. Furthermore, California Vehicle Code 16029 states that driving without insurance is illegal.
If you do decide to purchase UM or UIM insurance, the rule of thumb is to purchase coverage in at least the same amount as your liability limits. Consider whether your state has a higher-than-average number of uninsured drivers. In California, one out of five drivers is uninsured. But in Mississippi, about 30% of drivers have no insurance.
What are the Other Types of Car Insurance?
In addition to the UM and UIM policies, other supplemental coverages are listed below. These may cover medical expenses and other damages.
- No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection: PIP policies cover lost wages and essential services like child care, cleaniPay: ng, grocery shopping, etc.
- Medical Pay: MedPay Insurance works as a supplement to your health insurance
- Comprehensive Coverage: This refers to the combination of collision policies along with state-mandated policies such as liability insurance and UM/UIM. It also covers other damages if someone else hits your car
Get Legal Help From Experienced Lawyers at Adamson Ahdoot
Car accidents don’t have to financially burden you for life. Let our certified legal experts at Adamson Ahdoot help you. We’ll get you the compensation you deserve after a car accident with an uninsured driver.
Feel free to contact us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with a premier injury attorney.
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