Car accidents are incredibly stressful situations, especially in cases where there is fallout, either from medical issues that need to be taken care of or from repairing or replacing personal property, including your care.
In California, all drivers have a minimum insurance requirement as follows:
- $15,000 for injury/death to one person,
- $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and
- $5,000 damage to property.
However, it is often the case that the other driver in a car collision is either uninsured or underinsured, meaning that they won't be able to cover the cost of your full recovery. While this can feel incredibly unfair, especially if you aren't at fault, it is an unfortunate reality that many California drivers find themselves in.
Get Coverage From Your Own Insurance
If you've been in a car collision with an uninsured driver, or are the victim of a hit-and-run, the first place to look for help covering costs is your own insurance.
You can purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage from your own provider. This type of coverage will help cover costs for damages suffered in collisions underinsured or uninsured drivers who are found to be at fault.
These insurances will cover the difference between your costs and what, if anything, the other driver's insurance will cover. They will cover costs up to the amount of your standard liability coverage.
You can also invest in additional collision coverage, which would pay for damages to your car if you're the victim of a hit-and-run, or if your car was hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This type of insurance will only cover the costs of repairing your vehicle, not any further medical costs. Like uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage, the collision insurance coverage will only provide coverage up to your own insurance limits.
Even if you don't purchase any car insurance above the minimums required by California law, you should work with your health insurance provider to cover the costs associated with your recovery from the car collision. You should not avoid seeking medical treatment after a car collision because you are worried about the costs. Many neck and back injuries can be extremely serious if not treated properly.
Filing a Claim Against the Other Driver
In addition to seeking help from your own insurance coverage providers, you can try to get money from the other driver that would cover your losses. One option here would be a personal injury lawsuit, but this isn't the only option.
Instead of going to court, Californians can go to mediation to try to reach an agreement. This program, which is administrated by the court system, lets both parties have a mediated conversation in an attempt to amicably resolve the matter in a way that both sides can feel good about. Mediation can less expensive, both in terms of time and money spent looking for a resolution.
Meeting with a court-appointed mediator isn't the only way to resolve a dispute without going to court – you can also communicate directly with the other party to settle the case privately. Settlement offers many of the benefits of mediation, but both practices could lead nowhere if the other party isn't interested in working towards a resolution.
While many people will actively work to avoid being involved in litigation, sometimes this is the only way to get what you need. Victims of car collisions with uninsured or underinsured drivers sometimes need to file a lawsuit in order to recover anything. California requires that personal injury lawsuits be initiated within two years of the date of the injury.
Keep in mind that even if you are “successful” and win your lawsuit, there are no guarantees that the other driver will actually be able to give you money for injuries or damages. Because of this, it is important to understand what your insurance does, and doesn't, cover when it comes to accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers.
Getting You the Help That Meets Your Needs
When dealing with the aftermath of a car collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver, there often isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. At the Law Offices of Freeman & Freeman, our personal injury lawyers are proud of the individual service we've been able to offer each of our clients for the past 40 years. If you need help figuring out the right way to handle your case, please contact us by calling (707) 575-7141 to set up an initial consultation today.