I was involved in a car accident in California with an uninsured motorist. What kind of compensation can I expect?
If you are involved in a car accident, sometimes it can be comforting to know that your car insurance coverage or the other driver’s coverage will help pay for vehicle damage and medical treatment. In some instances, the other driver may not have car insurance, read on to understand what your options are in such circumstances.
If you have collision coverage, your insurance provider will cater for the repairs to vehicle damages sustained in a collision with an uninsured at-fault driver or hit and run driver. Some insurance providers will charge you a deductible. It is worth noting that collision coverage does not help with your injuries; it just covers the cost of fixing your car.
Medical Payments Coverage
If you have a medical payments coverage, your medical bills will be paid for up to the limit of your policy. With medical payments coverage, there is no deductible.
If you have health insurance, it can cover any medical expenses less co-payments and deductibles. The insurer usually presents to you a questionnaire to determine whether your treatment was caused by a car accident, because they intend to pursue the responsible driver’s insurance provider. However, if the at-fault driver is not insured, the insurance company may look to your vehicle’s policy to get reimbursement.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
This type of insurance is applicable when one is involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver. UM coverage pays for your medical bills, lost wages, economic expenses, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. UM caters for the liability coverage that the at-fault driver should have had to clear your losses.
Your UM coverage is usually similar to the liability coverage on your insurance policy. However, sometimes this is not the case, and it is advisable to check the declaration of your policy to be sure. If your limits are $70/$100 for example, it means there is $70k for one person injured in your vehicle, or $100k for all the injured people in your vehicle. Some policies have a property damage coverage that pays for all damage to your vehicle without any deductible charges.
When making a claim under the UM policy, you will be negotiating a settlement as if you are dealing with the other driver’s insurance adjuster. It would be advisable to have an accident attorney or personal injury lawyer to assist you with the process. Before any payment is made under the conditions of the UM clause, your insurer will require the at-fault driver to sign a statement under oath declaring that he/she is not insured.
What if I Don’t Have UM Coverage?
If you do not have a UM Coverage, besides relying on your collision coverage, medical payments coverage, and health insurance, the only other option available to you is to sue the uninsured motorist. There is a high chance that you will not recover much from an uninsured driver because if he had assets or money, he would have had auto insurance.
Determining Fault and Your Claim
Drivers are charged with the duty of exercising reasonable care when driving. Infractions or violations of California’s Vehicle code like exceeding the required speed limit, failing to signal, ignoring traffic signs etc. are actions that can be used to prove one’s negligence in a car accident. However, a driver may engage in other actions that are unsafe and distracting like talking on a mobile phone, eating while driving, or texting.
In some cases, like in rear-end collisions, the other driver is almost always deemed to be at fault. However, in other cases, the fault is shared between you and the other driver. Careless behavior that leads to a vehicle accident is referred to as negligence. Vehicular accidents involving non-insured motorists may be subject to either contributory or comparative negligence.
Under contributory negligence, if you are found to be partly responsible for the collision, you will not get any compensation for a claim of personal injury. However, under comparative negligence, you will be compensated for sharing the fault for the accident, but your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. The application of contributory and comparative negligence laws depends on your current state. California applies the comparative liability principle. In most cases, the insurance provider determines fault, however, if your claim turns out to be a lawsuit, a jury or judge will decide the question of liability.
If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you can make a claim to be compensated for your losses. The claim you are eligible to make depends on what is covered in your auto insurance policy. Your best chance of being compensated for injuries, loss of work, and any other damages that the at fault driver may be liable to pay, is through an uninsured motorist coverage.