Pursuing Compensation for Victims of Uninsured Drivers – California Uninsured Motorist Attorneys
Being involved in a California motor vehicle collision is an unpleasant and disruptive experience even under the best of circumstances, but an accident with an uninsured motorist increases these hardships exponentially. When you are involved in a California auto accident, you have urgent financial needs including medical expenses and hospital bills and lost income for any period that you are unable to work. This does not even address other types of “costs” that are just as real like living with pain and impairment of your quality of life.
When a negligent driver causes a California car accident in which you are injured, the other driver’s auto liability coverage usually will provide a means to compensate your for your injuries and financial loss. However, the situation becomes extremely complex when the other driver is uninsured or lacks adequate insurance to cover your tangible and intangible forms of damages. While it is easy to assume that this problem is far more theoretical than practical, a few statistics reveal the magnitude of the risk for California drivers:
- Approximately one in three California drivers is uninsured or underinsured.
- Half of all California car accidents are caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- California has the second highest estimated percentage of uninsured drivers of any state (25 percent).
- There are more uninsured drivers in California in absolute terms than in any other state.
- Over 427,000 motor vehicle collisions occur annually in California.
- Minimum California insurance requirements are $15,000 per injury/fatality victim, $30,000 for all victims and $5,000 for property damage per accident.
- California ranks first for fatal car accidents with over 2,800 people killed annually
- More than 163,000 people are injured in California motor vehicle collisions each year.
There are a number of conclusions that can be drawn from these statistics, including the fact that there are an enormous number of motor vehicle collisions in California each year that cause a high number of injuries and wrongful deaths. Further, the chances are very high that if you are involved in a California car accident that the other driver may not have insurance. Even if the driver does have the minimum liability coverage, $15,000 in coverage will not even begin to cover the medical bills associated with serious injuries let alone provide adequate compensation for lost income, pain and suffering, impaired quality of life, diminished future earning capacity, mental distress or adverse impact on your marital relationship.
It also is often the case that uninsured drivers who own vehicles that are most in need of repair or maintenance and exhibit the worst driving practices. Drivers that forgo liability insurance generally do so because they do not feel that they can afford the cost of the insurance. The economic challenges that entice California drivers to disregard their legal obligation to carry auto insurance also mean that they may not be in a position to afford vehicle maintenance, such as replacing worn tires or brake pads that are important to reducing auto accident risk. Because a history of car accidents, traffic violations or drunk driving convictions can make insurance hard to obtain and expensive, it is predictable that uninsured drivers tend to have the worst driving records.
The number of uninsured drivers increases substantially during tough economic times when unemployment rates rise. Molly DeFrank, a spokeswoman for California’s Department of Insurance, indicates that there is a direct correlation between unemployment rates and drivers who do not carry auto insurance. Even if a driver does still purchase auto liability insurance, many driver will reduce their coverage to the statutory minimum’s to cut costs during challenging economic times.
Despite the high risk of being injured or losing a loved one to wrongful death in a collision with an unlicensed driver, an experienced California unlicensed motorist accident attorney may still be able to successfully assist you in obtaining financial compensation. One option that is occasionally available is to collect against the assets of a negligent driver who causes a California injury accident by speeding, texting, driving drunk or otherwise failing to exercise safe driving practices. While many people involved in car accidents own real estate and other property, homesteads on family residences, bankruptcy protection and the distressed financial condition of many uninsured drivers may make this option unrealistic in most situations.
A California uninsured motorist accident attorney more frequently may pursue a legal claim for compensation against your own insurance provider under your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage in California provides compensation for similar types of damages that you might otherwise seek in a personal injury claim when you are involved in a collision with an uninsured or hit and run driver. Underinsured motorist coverage may provide a source for recovery when the other driver has some liability coverage, but it is insufficient to cover your damages. It is a good idea to carry healthy limits for UM/UIM coverage because the medical bills and supportive care associated with catastrophic injuries like spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries or dismemberment can lead to medical expenses alone that reach six figures. If you purchase reasonable limits for your UM/UIM insurance like $100,000/$300,000, both you and your family will be reasonably protected if you suffer serious injury in a California car accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
A California uninsured motorist accident attorney can provide careful investigation of the facts, thorough analysis of the law, effective negotiation with insurance companies and persuasive courtroom advocacy. A California uninsured motorist accident lawyer also can answer your questions and advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies.