If you have been in an accident with an uninsured driver in California, you still have the right to secure any damages you may be owed. California law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance, so the uninsured driver may face legal consequences for not securing coverage.
In any case, you’ll have a few key resources at your disposal:
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If you have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your own auto insurance policy, you may be able to make a claim with your own insurance company to recover damages for your injuries and other losses. Uninsured motorist coverage is technically not required in California, but it can be a valuable form of protection if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
- Filing a Lawsuit: If the other driver was at fault for the accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses. However, keep in mind that even if you win a judgment in court, it can be difficult to collect payment from an uninsured driver. If the other driver has personal assets, such as a home or savings account, you may be able to recover damages by filing a lawsuit and obtaining a judgment against them. However, not all drivers have significant personal assets that can be used to pay for damages.
This is not a process you’ll want to navigate alone. Securing the help of a qualified uninsured motorist accident lawyer can make or break your case, as well as expedite the process.
So if you’re looking for strong legal representation, reach out to Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law today. Our team can help you decide the best plan of action and advise you on the next steps along the way.
To schedule a confidential, no-obligation case review, simply call (559) 878-4958 or contact us online.
What Happens to Uninsured Drivers in an Accident?
If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver in California, it’s important to know what happens next. Whether you or the uninsured (at-fault) driver is at fault, there are several steps you need to take.
What Happens if It’s the Uninsured Driver’s Fault?
If the uninsured driver is found to be at fault for a collision, they may be held personally responsible for payment of any damages. If they cannot afford to pay for repairs, then the vehicle owner may have to pay out of pocket.
An uninsured driver is also liable for any injury-related costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Depending on the specifics of the case, they may be subject to civil penalties or criminal consequences.
What Happens if It’s Your Fault?
If you’re deemed at fault in an accident with an uninsured driver, your car insurance may cover some — or all — of your expenses.
However, if you’re found to be significantly at fault, and your car insurance policy limit doesn’t cover the total costs of damages and injury, then the injured parties could bring a lawsuit against you directly.
Understanding Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you’re involved in a crash caused by an uninsured driver in California, your uninsured motorist coverage can help pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages related to the accident. Uninsured motorist coverage is often optional but strongly recommended for California drivers.
When purchasing uninsured motorist coverage, there are important facts to remember:
- Uninsured motorist coverage only applies when the other driver is at fault and lacks insurance coverage.
- If you have underinsured motorist coverage, it will pay out in addition to any amount paid out by the other driver’s insurance carrier — up to the limit stated on your policy — in order to cover excess costs.
- Uninsured motorist coverage you purchase will not cover damages to your vehicle or any property damaged in the crash; those losses must traditionally be submitted to the other driver’s insurance company or, in this situation, resolved through a civil court case.
- Uninsured motorist coverage does not provide protection if you are the at-fault party in an accident, but any damages should be taken care of through your own insurance policy if you have liability coverage.
- If you do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and are injured by an uninsured driver, you may need to file a lawsuit against them to seek compensation for damages resulting from their negligence.
What Auto Insurance Are California Drivers Required to Have?
In California, all drivers are required to have liability insurance to legally operate a vehicle on public roads. The minimum liability insurance coverage required by law in California is:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in an accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
This minimum coverage is often referred to as 15/30/5 coverage.
In addition to liability insurance, drivers can also choose to purchase uninsured motorist insurance plus collision insurance, which covers damages to their own vehicle in the event of an accident.
There is also comprehensive insurance, which covers non-collision-related damages such as theft, vandalism, and natural disasters.
What Legal Consequences Can Drivers Face for Not Securing Insurance?
In addition to having to pay for any damages out of pocket, an uninsured driver can also be forced to pay legal fees for any lawsuit filed, and in the worst situations, even face criminal charges.
In California, driving without auto insurance is a misdemeanor offense. As a result, uninsured drivers can face fines, with the first offense usually totaling between $200 – $500, and subsequent offenses surpassing $1,000, or vehicle impoundment.
Worse, they can even face up to six months in jail for their first offense as well as up to a year in jail for any subsequent offenses.
In addition, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may suspend the at-fault driver’s driver’s license if they do not pay for damages resulting from the accident. The suspension will remain in effect until the driver pays for the damages or arranges a payment plan.
Notifying the Appropriate Authorities
If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, the first thing you should do after getting medically cleared is contact the police. Once the police have been notified, they will investigate the incident and provide you with an official report of what happened.
After notifying the police and providing proof of insurance, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible. They can help determine if filing a claim is necessary and guide you on what to do next.
Submitting a Claim to Your Insurance Company
If you’re involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, the next step will be to submit a claim to your insurance company. In California, there are four types of insurance coverage available:
- Bodily injury liability: Covers medical expenses and lost wages for the other driver if you are at fault in the accident.
- Property damage liability: Covers repairs to any property (including vehicles) damaged in the accident.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Covers your medical bills and lost wages if the uninsured driver is at fault for the accident.
- Medical payments: Covers your own medical costs after an accident, regardless of fault.
Your insurance company will investigate your claim and may decide to pay out for damages, depending on the extent of damage caused by the other driver.
If you do receive an insurance payout from the latter two types of coverage, it will be from your own policy and not from the other driver’s policy.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Driver?
Yes. Even if the other driver has no insurance, you may still have the option to file a lawsuit against them.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the accident and your state’s laws, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
In California, you can take an uninsured driver to court if:
- You have suffered real damages from the accident
- The uninsured driver was negligent
- That negligence caused your injuries or damage to your property
Because California is a fault-based state, the driver who is found to be at fault for causing a car accident is responsible for paying for the resulting damages. That said, if both drivers are found to be negligent, then each party will be responsible for their own damages.
However, if the at-fault driver does not have insurance and does not have sufficient assets to cover the damages, you may have to seek compensation from your own insurer.
Work With Attorneys Experienced in Handling Uninsured Motorist Accident Claims
Securing damages after an accident with an uninsured driver can be complicated, but it’s certainly not impossible. The easiest way to navigate the next steps here will be to tap the help of a qualified attorney specializing in uninsured motorist car accidents.
Singh Ahluwalia Attorneys at Law can help you determine the best course of action and discuss your options in a confidential, no-obligation case review. So call (559) 878-4958 or contact us online today to schedule your first conversation.