It is a responsible driver’s worst nightmare – a serious car accident, and the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance. Despite California laws making vehicle insurance mandatory, hundreds of negligent drivers go without coverage. Luckily, in many cases, an uninsured driver is another hurdle your lawyer can jump over in pursuit of accident compensation. At Henshaw & Henry, PC we know how frustrating it is to be the victim of someone else’s mistakes. We don’t believe you should have to pay out of pocket because another driver broke the law. Let our San Jose injury attorneys help you recover damages from an uninsured driver in San Jose.
California requires every driver to maintain minimum levels of liability automobile insurance to cover damages if he or she is at fault in an accident. This insurance is there to compensate the occupants of other vehicles, pedestrians, and property owners for damage and injuries the driver may cause in a collision. The minimum liability coverage required is:
The penalties for driving without insurance can be as high as $450 for a first offense and up to $2,500 for each subsequent offense in a three-year period. Drivers who fail to maintain the required levels of liability insurance are also subject the suspension of their driver’s licenses. The state estimates 14% of California drivers ignore this requirement and operate their vehicles without insurance, despite the harsh penalties for breaking the law.
After any car accident, your first priority should be to check yourself for injuries. If you think you have an injury, call 911 and request an ambulance. If there are any injuries, deaths, or property damage equaling more than $1,000, California law makes it mandatory to report your accident.
If the driver says he or she does not have insurance, call the police and report the crash no matter what. Reporting the crash will safeguard you from the driver giving you fake information. Even if you seem uninjured and there doesn’t seem to be any damage to your car, call the police. Documentation of the other driver’s uninsured status will be critical in any insurance claim you make, as well as any civil action you decide to pursue later.
Failing to notify the police can result in the uninsured driver fleeing without giving you his or her information. It also allows the driver to continue driving without insurance. The police can create an official record of the crash, and punish the negligent driver for not having insurance. Once the police arrive, give your side of the story in detail. The police should record information such as the other driver’s name and plate number, but it is wise to collect this information yourself as well. Take photos of the accident, if you can.
Next, check your own auto insurance policy. Insurance companies can include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for a small additional cost. This coverage will pay for the damage caused you and your property by an uninsured motorist up to a set limit, usually around $3,500 after you pay a deductible. This coverage only helps you repair the damage from the accident – it does not relieve the at-fault uninsured driver of liability.
Call your insurance company and report the crash as soon as you can. Let your insurance agent know that the other driver does not have insurance. You may have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy that will cover your damages. Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) coverage will pay for your injuries, while uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) will pay for your vehicle’s damages, with the $3,500 limit. UMPD will only kick in if you identify the uninsured driver. If you have collision coverage, this may cover your damages as well.
Yes, it is possible to sue the uninsured motorist. Whether or not your own insurance pays your UM claim, the at-fault driver is still liable for any injuries and property damage he or she caused. You have every right to pursue compensation for the results of the other driver’s carelessness and hold him or her accountable. You should not have to pay for the other driver’s poor judgement in deciding to break the law and take the wheel without proper insurance coverage.
Don’t make the assumption that he or she doesn’t have the means to pay because they don’t have insurance. Insurance companies deny coverage for bad drivers all the time based on their driving records and claims histories, regardless of what their financial situations may be. You cannot know what the at-fault driver’s ability to pay a claim is until an experienced attorney asks for the information.
Your right to compensation goes beyond the injuries and the physical damage to your property you’ve suffered. You may also be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering, as well as expenses incurred by the accident. Expenses could include rental cars, additional transportation costs if you’re left unable to drive, and missed work and lost wages.
It is wise to contact a San Jose car accident attorney who has experience in dealing with accidents caused by uninsured motorists to represent your interests and make sure you’re not left paying the bill for someone else’s carelessness. Contact Henshaw & Henry, PC to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you receive compensation for your injuries, property damage, and pain and suffering.
If your insurance company gives you a fair settlement for your damages after a collision with an uninsured motorist, you may not need an attorney’s help. However, these cases can easily take an unexpected turn. You might not have uninsured motorist coverage, or your insurance company may deny your claim. The at-fault driver may lie about his or her name or contact information. You may have suffered serious injuries that your insurance company won’t cover. Any number of things can make you feel like no one is serving justice. If this is the case, call an attorney right away.
The San Jose lawyers at Henshaw & Henry, PC will talk with you about your car accident during a complimentary, confidential consultation. We can help you understand your legal opportunities. There may be another party partially at fault for your collision that does have insurance, such as a product manufacturer or the City of San Jose for an unsafe roadway. If there is a way to recover for your accident, we will find it. Call (408) 533-1075 or drop us a line to schedule your free case evaluation.