What Happens If You’re Hit by an Uninsured Motorist in California?

girl-after-accidentNo matter how careful a driver you are, car accidents happen, especially on California’s highly congested streets and freeways. It certainly doesn’t reduce the stress when you’re in an auto accident. To top it off, far too many motorists are uninsured; as of 2017, 14.7% of drivers in California had no coverage, compared to Oklahoma’s 26% and Florida’s 24%, which still increases your chances of encountering uninsured drivers involved in an accident.

Can I Obtain Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

Although not a policy of its own, uninsured motorist (UM) coverage can help you pay for medical bills and automotive repairs after being hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. To obtain coverage, it is added to your current policy. Each insurer sets its own levels coverage and pricing, so contact the insurance company to learn about the fine details.

Types of Uninsured Motorist Coverage

There are three types of uninsured motorist coverage. The most common includes uninsured motorist for bodily injury (UMBI) coverage, which covers the cost of treating injuries to you, passengers in your automobile, and relatives who live with you, and often includes lost income and pain and suffering. Uninsured motorist coverage for property damage (UMPD) is usually required only if you don’t have collision coverage, but pays for damages caused by an uninsured driver. Most of the time, this doesn’t cover hit and run accidents, but check with your insurer to find out exactly what is covered.

Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage applies if you’re hit by a driver who has only minimum policy limits. Driving with minimum coverage in California is legal. However, being hit by a motorist who has only minimum coverage can cost you. For example, if the at-fault driver has $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage (the state minimum) and you have a $50,000 medical bill, you’ll need to pay $35,000 in medical bills unless your UIM coverage will cover the remainder.

What Does Your Auto Insurance Policy Cover?

If you don’t know all the details of your policy, don’t wait until an accident to find out. It’s extremely important to know whether you have UM or UIM coverage. The type of coverage can significantly affect how you file an accident claim.

If a driver has no UM coverage, you can file a lawsuit against them directly, but since the driver probably can’t afford insurance, there’s nothing to gain from a court case. However, that’s not always the outcome. The uninsured motorist may be financially secure, but forgot to pay their insurance premium, but the ball is in your court because a financial recovery may be possible.

To benefit from UM coverage, you must already have it when the accident occurs; it can’t be added later. If you are covered, you can file a claim through your insurance policy. A lack of coverage means you are stuck filing a direct lawsuit, which in and of itself can be expensive, on top of huge medical bills, legal fees, and pain and suffering.

How to Deal with Your Insurance Company

Even if you have UM or UIM coverage, working with an insurance company can still be a headache. Insurance adjustors will try to lowball your settlement in the best interests of their employer. A car accident attorney can fight for your interests. But is the prospect of a legal case daunting, in terms of scope and cost? Contact FCA Legal Funding at 310-424-5176, or apply risk-free today and receive legal funding in Los Angeles in as little as 24 hours.

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