Driving without auto insurance in California has a number of dire consequences, but thousands of motorists continue to take this risk. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 15.2 % of all California drivers are currently uninsured, meaning your odds of getting into an accident with someone who has zero liability coverage are not that small.
Any type of collision can be stressful and confusing, but what happens if the other driver has no insurance? Nearly half all of traffic accidents in California involve at least one driver who is uninsured or underinsured.
If you find yourself in this situation, follow these steps to protect your rights.
Step 1: Report the accident
Call the police after any type of collision. A written police report provides evidence to support any claim filed with your insurance provider or it may be used in a personal injury lawsuit.
Step 2: Document the scene
It’s a smart move to take pictures and/or video following any type of car accident, but particularly relevant when the other driver is uninsured. Using your smart phone, record the damage to both vehicles, location shots that illustrate the scene of the crash, skid marks and other pertinent details.
Step 3: Call your insurance provider
Contact your insurance company and report the accident. If you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in California, and the other party is at fault, you would bring a first party claim against your insurance company. This UM policy would provide money damages to cover property damage and medical bills, however, the amount typically will not exceed your personal liability coverage.
Let’s say you only purchased the minimum liability insurance for bodily and property damage coverage, which in California totals a mere $40,000. This sum may cover bills stemming from a minor accident but will fall short if the crash resulted in catastrophic injuries.
Step 4: Get legal counsel
Even if you purchased uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in California, there is no guarantee that your provider will accept or pay the full amount of the claim. If denied or delayed, you may be bearing the burden of accident-related expenses out of your own pocket, adding further insult to injury. Having an experienced attorney will greatly improve your leverage when it comes to settlement negotiations. You always stand a much better chance of receiving full compensation when armed with skilled legal counsel.
Legal guidance filing a car accident claim in California
Driving without car insurance is illegal in California. It goes without saying that adding UM/UIM coverage on your policy is recommended. While suing a negligent uninsured driver seems logical, few have the assets or income to pay a final judgement.
Reach out to Los Angeles car accident lawyer Sean Salamati to discuss your rights when dealing with uninsured drivers. Put our experience and talent to work for you – call today and schedule a free case evaluation.
Additional Resources on Uninsured/Underinsured Drivers in CA:
- California Department of Insurance, Liability Coverage and California Law http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/auto101.cfm
- CarInsurance.com, Penalty for driving without insurance for every state https://www.carinsurance.com/driving-without-insurance-penalties-state.aspx
- The Balance, Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in California https://www.thebalance.com/penalties-for-driving-without-car-insurance-in-california-527033