Despite the fact that California, as well as other states throughout the country, require motorists to have automobile insurance coverage and provides stiff penalties for drivers who fail to do so, many drivers continue to tempt fate by driving without insurance. Uninsured drivers end up costing all of us money, both in terms of monthly premiums as well as paying for accidents caused by uninsured drivers. If you have been injured in an accident involving an uninsured driver, the following includes information to keep in mind in order to decrease your own costs and get compensation for your injuries.
Driving Without Insurance
Under Section 17150 of the California Vehicle Code, drivers are responsible for any property damages or injuries they cause while operating a motor vehicle. The CA Vehicle Code further dictates that drivers are required to carry either a minimum amount of liability insurance, or to post cash or a surety bond in the amount of $35,000 to cover any injuries or damages they cause. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles insurance companies are required to report insurance information to the DMV, and uninsured drivers or those who fail to post the appropriate bond can have their vehicle registration suspended.
Despite the penalties and potential risks associated with driving without insurance, the number of uninsured drivers is still alarmingly high. As reported in an August 2014 news release, an Insurance Research Council (IRC) study on uninsured drivers cites figures indicating as many as 29 million drivers do not have any form of insurance. Statewide, California was named as having one of the highest rates, with over 4.1 people driving uninsured.
Accidents Involving Uninsured Drivers
According to a report on uninsured drivers by the Insurance Journal, approximately one in eight drivers on the road do not have car insurance, and accidents caused by these drivers end up costing the public well over $2 million each year. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist you have two ways to recover damages associated with your injury: by filing a claim with your own automobile insurer, or by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
- Filing a claim through your own insurance: According to the California Department of Insurance, there are several types of optional insurance coverages that will cover damages and injuries in the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver. Collision coverage and medical payments policies cover the cost of repairs and medical expenses for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist’s policies are also available, and are specifically designed to protect you in the event you are involved in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, or does not carry an adequate amount to cover your damages. These types of policies are also optional, but in California you must sign a waiver if you choose not to get coverage against accidents caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit: If you were hurt or suffered damages in an accident caused by another driver, your best recourse may be in filing a personal injury lawsuit with an experienced San Francisco personal injury attorney. Under the California Civil Code, the types of compensation you may seek in a personal injury claim include medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering if your accident was the result someone’s careless or negligent conduct. If you receive a judgment in the case and the at fault driver either does not have the assets to pay or refuses to pay, the court can place a lien on their house, car, or other property or assets and may garnish their wages until the debt is satisfied.