In California, auto insurance is a legal requirement for every driver on the road. However, some individuals ignore the law and do not carry any liability insurance or do not have adequate coverage to pay for damages in the event of an accident. Pursuing compensation from an uninsured driver after a car accident may not be successful because they don’t have the resources to pay you what you are owed. Knowing whether you can file a claim through your insurance company for uninsured or underinsured coverage is important. If you are unsure about a claim, contact our offices to speak with a car accident attorney.
Read on to learn more about how uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) claims work, the role of a lawyer in these claims, and the time limit for filing a lawsuit in California.
What Is an Uninsured Driver Under California Law?
An uninsured driver is someone who operates a vehicle without the legally required minimum liability insurance. In California, the minimum liability coverage requirements are:
- $15,000 for injury or death to one person;
- $30,000 for injury or death to multiple persons; and
- $5,000 for property damage.
Drivers who do not carry this minimum coverage are considered uninsured and can face severe consequences if involved in an accident.
There are instances where someone can have liability insurance and still be regarded as an uninsured driver. If the driver did something that violated their policy, such as working as a delivery driver in a personal vehicle, the insurance company might deny coverage. Although the person pays premiums for liability coverage, they could be considered uninsured for your damages.
When Is a Driver Underinsured?
An underinsured driver has insurance coverage but not enough to cover the damages caused by an accident. In California, if the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to compensate for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage, they are considered underinsured. For example, if you have $200,000 in damages and the at-fault driver only has $50,000 in bodily injury coverage, that driver is underinsured.
How UM Claims Work
Uninsured motorist coverage is an optional but highly recommended insurance policy that might provide some compensation after an accident with an uninsured driver. You file a UM claim through your own insurance company. This coverage can compensate for your medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage up to your policy limits.
To file a UM claim, you must notify your insurance provider of the accident and provide details about the uninsured driver. Your insurer will conduct a coverage investigation first. If coverage is approved, your insurance assumes the role of the uninsured driver’s insurance company. That means your insurance company will treat you like a third-party claimant. You will not receive a payment just because it’s your insurance company. There’s liability investigation and negotiations for a potential settlement that won’t exceed your UM limits.
How a California Uninsured Motorist Lawyer Can Help You
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer can significantly increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation in a UM or UIM claim. A lawyer can protect your rights and help you fight for the maximum compensation. When you hire Henderson Law, we’ll:
- Collect evidence – A lawyer will gather and preserve crucial evidence to support your claims, such as police reports, witness statements, and medical records.
- Communicate with your insurance company – Insurance companies often attempt to minimize or deny claims. Your lawyer will handle communications, negotiate on your behalf, and fight to help you receive fair compensation for your damages.
- Identify additional coverage – A skilled lawyer can explore other avenues of compensation, such as other policies or additional defendants, to maximize your recovery.
- Filing a lawsuit – If necessary, a lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf to help you seek reimbursement for your damages.
To learn more about what to do if you’re involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver or an underinsured driver, please contact Henderson Law.
Time Limit for Filing a UM/UIM Lawsuit in California
California has a strict time limit, or statute of limitations, within which you must file a lawsuit for a UM or UIM claim. Generally, you have two years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. Should you miss the filing deadline, the court might dismiss your case; it won’t matter how strong your evidence is. Don’t risk your potential compensation by inadvertently missing the filing deadline. Let a skilled California car accident lawyer at Henderson Law help.
How a California Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Obtaining compensation directly from an uninsured driver after a car accident seldom happens. That is why you need to look at filing a UM or UIM claim if the driver is underinsured.
UM and UIM claims can be complex, especially if you’re filing a lawsuit against your own insurance company. Some victims let their guard down and say something the insurance adjuster uses against them in the liability investigation. Don’t put yourself in a situation like that. Instead, reach out to us and let the experienced California accident lawyers at Henderson Law assist you.
Once you retain a lawyer, the insurance adjuster must communicate exclusively with your lawyer. We’ll also handle all negotiations on your behalf. We’ll also ensure to adhere to all legal deadlines, including the statute of limitations in California. The courts in California are unforgiving if you miss the filing deadline. Should your insurance company be unwilling to settle, we’ll take your case to trial if necessary.
Contact Henderson Law Today
When you’ve suffered injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured driver, Henderson Law stands ready to help. Our experienced lawyers know how UM and UIM claims work and how to build a solid case. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation and learn more about dealing with an uninsured or underinsured driver after an accident in California.