It is against California’s law to drive a vehicle without proof of financial responsibility or auto insurance. Motorists who violate this requirement risk up to four years in prison and a suspension of their driving license. But what happens to the victim of an accident involving an uninsured motorist?
While your insurance company may pay you for the damages, you may not always agree on the amount you deserve. And that’s where Fresno legal experts at Tomassian, Pimentel & Shapazian come in to defend your rights.
How Is an Uninsured Motorist Defined in California?
Unlike other states that require drivers to have the traditional driving license, California only requires them to show some sort of financial responsibility in case of an accident.
The legally accepted ways include:
- A surety bond in a CA-licensed business worth $35,000
- A DMV self-insurance certificate
- A cash deposit worth $35,000 with DMV
- A motor vehicle liability insurance
So, anyone on the road that does not meet any of the above requirements is an uninsured motorist in California. Such accidents can be stressful for parties involved, but a skilled Fresno car accident lawyer can ease the legal burden.
What Are the Dos and Don’ts After Being Hit By an Uninsured Motorist?
A driver’s worst nightmare is to find out that the motorist that hit them has no insurance. You may not know what to do in the confusion of the moment – the aching in your neck, the damage on your vehicle. Here is what you can and can’t do:
- Involve the Police
It is crucial to contact the police and have them come to the scene of the accident. Remember that incidences with uninsured drivers are complex, and a police report can facilitate your claims process.
- Decline Instant Monetary Offers
Some drivers may attempt to offer you money to avoid the legal consequences of their actions. An instant monetary settlement may sound like a good deal, but you can’t be sure about how much you will need to fix the damage or cover the injury costs.
- Exchange Information
They may not have insurance information, but their car details and contacts are still crucial for your case. Furthermore, don’t forget to take witnesses’ contacts because their statements may be required.
- Record all Details
Remember to write down important details, because it is possible to forget them – the badge number and name of the police officer, the location and time of the accident, the model and make of the other vehicle.
- Take Photos
When filing a claim, you’ll need pictures to show the direction that each car was headed towards, the traffic signs, the uninsured motorist’s license plate, and the damage on the vehicles.
What Can My Auto Policy Cover in a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Having the right insurance coverage is an excellent way to cushion yourself from the unexpected expenses incurred in accidents with an uninsured motorist. However, if your costs exceed the coverage limit, you may have to pay for the extra amount.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Insurers usually give you the option of buying the uninsured motorist coverage along with your auto insurance. If you opt-in and an uninsured driver hits you, it can sort lost wages, medical costs, and injuries incurred by you or your passengers.
This covers repair expenses for your car if you are a victim of a hit-and-run incident. However, you may have to pay a certain deductible amount out of pocket to cover the claim. If you later identify the motorist, their insurance company may refund the money you spent.
Medical Payment Coverage
This coverage will cater for your medical expenses and that of your passengers, even if it was your fault.
What Should I Do If I Don’t Have an Insurance Cover?
Your personal or employer’s health cover can help cover your medical expenses if you do not have auto insurance and the motorist at fault is uninsured. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit in California to recover damages from the uninsured motorist with the help of a Fresno auto crash attorney.
Be aware that the at-fault driver can decide to file for bankruptcy to free themselves of the financial and legal obligation. Therefore, it is safer to find out if it is worth pursuing the case first – the uninsured driver should have enough assets to compensate you.
Who Else Can I Sue for the Damages?
Some insured motorists might not have the funds to compensate you even if they wanted to. However, an experienced California accident attorney can investigate the incident and identify other parties that may have contributed to the accident.
The Vehicle Manufacturer
Manufacturers’ responsibilities include releasing only roadworthy and safe vehicles that don’t put drivers or other road users at risk. They might be liable if they were aware of a mechanical defect that resulted in the accident.
The Mechanic That Recently Worked on the Vehicle
Mechanics have the responsibility of repairing damages on a vehicle and returning it to a roadworthy state. They can be liable if they caused more damage or hid an incomplete repair job that led to an accident.
The Vehicle Owner
The owner that knowingly allows an uninsured driver to go behind the wheels is responsible for any accidents they cause. Also, if the lack of proper maintenance contributed to the accident, they will have to compensate you.
Trusted Car Accident Lawyer Offering Compassionate Legal Advice
All is not lost just because the motorist that hit you is uninsured. The truth is, the driver may be broke and incapable of paying for the damages – but a skilled personal injury attorney in California can help you recover it from third parties. Simply capture all the driver’s possible details and the accident scene and let an expert do the remaining complex bit.
Insurance companies and third parties have interests that are dueling with yours. It can be impossible to get the compensation you deserve if you go into the lawsuit unrepresented. You increase your odds of a successful recovery when you contact an experienced accident attorney in Fresno.
Call us now at 559-277-7300 and let us help you recover compensation for your losses.