Car accidents of any kind can be extremely stressful. Not only do you have to deal with the damage to your vehicle and property, but also any injuries that you have suffered. This requires a lot of aggravation communicating with their insurance company. But what happens when the other driver doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to pay for your damages – or worse yet – is an uninsured motorist?
Bay Area Uninsured Motorist Claims Attorney
If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist, it’s extremely important that you take the right steps in order to receive the compensation that you deserve. Don’t wait; contact the Law Offices of David P. Kashani today to start on your claim.
What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
In an effort to avoid situations such as these, California requires auto insurers to offer Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC) – Uninsured (UM) or under-insured (UIM) coverage – on all of their auto insurance policies.
UM/UIM coverage is optional insurance that can be added to your policy to pay out when another driver is at fault but lacks any – or all – insurance to cover your medical bills and damages. In other words, UI/UIM coverage protects the injured party from having to pay for damages that were due to someone else’s negligence should the at-fault driver be unable to cover them.
It’s important to note that while California requires auto insurers to offer UM/UIM coverage, it can still be declined. Drivers are not obligated to purchase it. However, doing so is generally a good idea.
Under California law, drivers must maintain 15/30/5 liability insurance. In other words, if the individual who is insured is responsible for an accident, his or her insurance company will pay up to:
- $15,000 for bodily injury (or death) per person;
- $30,000 for bodily injury (or death) per accident; and
- $5,000 for property damage to the other vehicle.
Though California does require all drivers to maintain minimum vehicle liability insurance, it still has more uninsured drivers than any other state.
Damage in Excess of the At-Fault Party’s Coverage
Often drivers who lack coverage are uninsured because they have much less income and fewer assets than those drivers with insurance. While you could choose to go after the other driver personally for any damages (e.g. medical costs, car repair, lost wages, pain, and suffering, etc.), if the other driver doesn’t have the assets to make those payments, you will likely be unable to collect from them regardless in the state of California.
Many California drivers often choose the minimum amount of coverage, which, while legal, often fails to cover the damages for any serious accident – especially those involving multiple occupants in the other vehicle.
When a driver lacks enough coverage to pay for the damages, he or she is considered to be “under-insured.” The underinsured motorist is essentially treated as uninsured for the amount of damage in excess of what their policy covers.
Steps to Take After an Accident
After an accident has occurred, most insurance companies require that the driver notify them as soon as possible no matter who is at fault. This is not the case for minor accidents in which there are no physical injuries and only limited property damage to one’s vehicle.
California also requires those involved to file an accident report with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident if anyone has been injured or if the property damage is in excess of $1,000. In fact, a driver can have his or her license suspended if he or she fails to do so.
After an accident is reported to the insurance company, it will gather any available evidence such as witness statements, police reports, and photographs, to determine who was at fault for the accident. However, the individual insured still has the right to challenge this decision by filing a lawsuit.
If the insured party is partially at fault for the accident, it may still be in his or her best interest to challenge this decision since California follows a comparative fault law. The doctrine of comparative fault allows for those who are partly at fault for an accident to recover a portion of the damages.
Examples of UM/UIM Claims
For instance, imagine that Driver A is 70% at fault and Driver B is 30% at fault for an accident. If the insurance company finds that Driver A is at fault, he or she may still want to challenge this decision since driver B should only be entitled to 70% of his or her damages.
Now imagine the same scenario. Driver B incurs $25,000 in damages from the accident, but Driver A only has the minimum required auto insurance coverage and can only pay $20,000. In this case, Driver A would be considered uninsured for the other $5,000. If Driver B has uninsured motorist coverage, he or she could be reimbursed by his or her policy for the remaining $5,000.
Professional Experience Fighting Uninsured Motorist Claims
At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, APLC, our legal team has several potential methods at their disposal to help get you or your loved one as much compensation as possible. Uninsured motorist claims require experience in personal injury law, insurance law, and contract law, all of which are specialties of our highly qualified team.
Under the Uninsured Motorist Law, insurance companies can provide you with that compensation and then seek damages from the individual directly. Because this outcome is not ideal for the insurance company, these suits often require touchy and potentially acrimonious confrontations with your insurance. Our team can help work through this delicate situation for your benefit.
The most important thing when experiencing an uninsured motorist accident is to act quickly. Contact the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, APLC right away to schedule a free consultation in which we can discuss your options.