Being struck by another driver is unnerving at the least and physically, emotionally, and financially devastating at the worst. Victims can be left with significant medical bills, the inability to earn a living, pain and suffering, and much more. To literally add insult to injury, many drivers illegally operate their vehicles without any automobile insurance, or with coverage amounts that are too low.
If you’ve been in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you might be wondering what your legal options are. It’s time to speak with a knowledgeable Santa Ana car accident lawyer with experience handling crashes with uninsured motorists. That’s where you can rely on Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers. We can represent you or a loved one by seeking the most damages allowed by law.
California Car Insurance Requirements
The State of California requires that drivers have automobile insurance. Moreover, the policies they carry must meet basic minimum coverage amounts. For instance, the policy must include at least the following:
- $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $5,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident
These insurance amounts are sometimes known collectively as 15/30/5 coverage. Any motorist who does not carry insurance in at least these amounts is driving illegally in California and would be held personally liable for any damages they cause in an accident. The driver can also face monetary and legal penalties for driving without adequate insurance coverage.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against an Uninsured Driver?
If a negligent driver causes you to get into an accident, you have the right to file a lawsuit directly against that individual. However, in most accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers, the at-fault motorist doesn’t have the money to pay the victim’s medical bills and other expenses. You can obtain a judgment against the driver but it may prove challenging to collect on it.
Nonetheless, if you’ve been in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you should still contact an experienced personal injury attorney. It is also strongly suggested that you purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance to cover these exact situations. Our law firm can help you pursue an accident claim either against the driver or with your insurer.
Report the Accident and Consult with Your Insurance Company
If you’ve been in an uninsured motorist accident in California, there are a few basic steps you should take to seek compensation:
- Report the accident to the police: Even if the accident is minor, you should report it right away. The police will generate a report with important details about the accident, which will prove helpful to you later.
- Document the accident: Take pictures and record video of the accident scene, including the damage done to your vehicle. Speak with any witnesses and make your own notes about what happened.
- Notify your insurance company: This is especially important if you have uninsured or underinsured accident coverage, but it’s a step you should take regardless.
- Obtain medical attention: Regardless of how minor your injuries are, or even if you don’t believe you’ve been hurt, let a doctor make that call. Not doing so could be detrimental to your health and legal claim.
- Have your vehicle repaired: You may not yet be sure how you will pay for the repairs if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, but having the repairs done is necessary to drive safely and legally.
- Call an accident lawyer: An uninsured accident attorney can advise you as to your rights and options, including seeking compensation directly from the at-fault driver or through your insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured coverage.
What to Avoid Doing After Being in an Uninsured Automobile Accident
There are also a few things you should not do in a crash with a driver without insurance. For example:
- Do not confront the driver: Doing this is not recommended because it could unnecessarily escalate the situation or trigger road rage. Let an automobile accident attorney handle the case for you.
- Do not admit fault: Never admit fault, even if you think you caused the accident. It is quite possible that you are mistaken and that the other driver is at least partially — if not totally — responsible.
- Do not settle the case without consulting an attorney: Whether you are settling directly with the driver or with your own insurance company, you should speak with a lawyer before signing any paperwork. Otherwise, you may be cheating yourself out of the compensation you deserve.
- Do not assume you cannot recover: A lawyer will guide you and explain how best to collect damages. There may be other parties who could be held liable for your injuries, and an attorney will explore these legal avenues with you.
Open an Uninsured Motorist Claim
If you do have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, it’s imperative that you open a claim right away. Read your insurance policy and follow the instructions for reporting the accident.
Bear in mind, however, that even if you have insurance coverage this doesn’t mean that your insurer will handle your claim in good faith. Insurance companies are notorious for denying valid claims and paying far less than victims deserve.
For this reason, our law firm emphasizes the importance of speaking with an attorney before accepting an insurance settlement. You should also retain legal counsel if your insurance company is refusing to pay, is blaming you for the accident, or is attempting to pay far less than your case is worth.
Contact an Experienced Uninsured Motorist Accident Attorney in Santa Ana
Have you or a loved one been in a car accident with an uninsured driver? Are you worried about being able to collect from the driver, or are you encountering problems with your own insurance company in an uninsured or underinsured claim? Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers provides comprehensive legal representation for car accident victims in Santa Ana and elsewhere throughout California.
We understand the stress that comes with knowing that the driver who hit you either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage. That’s why we get to work every day representing the best interests of accident victims. To learn more, give our team a call, or fill out our online form today.