Injured by an Uninsured Motorist?
Our Alameda Car Accident Attorneys Have The Answers
Did you know that over 15 percent of California drivers may not have auto insurance? Even drivers that do have insurance may not have enough insurance to cover the medical bills, income loss, pain and suffering and property damage caused by a traffic collision. So, what is a car accident victim to do if they are in a crash with an under or uninsured motorist?
Being prepared is the first step in preventing an underinsured/uninsured driver from causing chaos in your life. Major insurance companies offer uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. These policies are often quite affordable if your current insurance policy does not have UM/UIM coverage. Yet, insurance companies rarely inform policyholders about this type of coverage unless directly asked about it.
At Heinrich Law, PC, we can help you file an underinsured/uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company. We can also help you pursue compensation if your insurer denies your claim. Our firm’s founder has valuable experience that gives us the advantage when handling insurance claims. Marjorie Heinrich is an award-winning former defense attorney for insurance companies who switched sides to help plaintiffs. Our clients have benefited from that experience, and your case may benefit from it too.
How Does California UM/UIM Coverage Work?
You should always carry UM/UIM coverage, as California has more uninsured and underinsured drivers than any other state in the country. Although it is not mandatory, insurance companies must offer you this coverage. The amount offered will generally match your liability coverage limits.
If you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver and did not carry this coverage, then you would have an extremely difficult time recovering compensation for your damages (as well as your passengers), such as costs associated with injuries, lost wages and funeral expenses.
There are a few different types of UM/UIM coverage in California. These options include:
- UMBI coverage: Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage will pay for injury expenses sustained during an accident with an uninsured driver. This includes accidents when you are riding a bicycle or walking across the street.
- UIM coverage: This coverage will pay for injuries sustained during an accident with an at-fault driver who lacks enough coverage to pay for all of your damages. After the at-fault driver’s coverage is exhausted, your UIM coverage will pay the remaining amount allowed under your policy. Again, this includes accidents when you are riding a bicycle or a pedestrian.
- UMPD coverage: Uninsured motorist property damage coverage pays for property damage after an accident with an at-fault driver who lacks insurance. Depending on your current policy, you may not need this coverage.
How does California law define an uninsured driver? There are a few situations where California law considers a driver to be uninsured. Examples of uninsured drivers include but are not limited to:
- At-fault motorists who lack liability coverage
- Situations involving stolen vehicles and unidentified hit-and-run drivers
- Motorists who do not carry the minimum amount of insurance required by California law
An underinsured driver is a motorist who lacks enough insurance to cover all of your damages. UM/UIM coverage is extremely useful because of what it covers. UIM coverage could help cover your injury expenses that are not covered by the underinsured driver’s insurance provider. Without an adequate amount of UIM insurance, you may be unable to recover the full amount of compensation needed to cover your injuries or loss. UM/UIM coverage will also cover you for injuries suffered during bicycle or pedestrian accidents, another reason this coverage is so invaluable.
Minimum Liability Coverage in California
In California, motorists must have 15/30/5 minimum liability insurance. What this means is that in the event of an accident, the policyholder’s insurance company will pay:
- $15,000 for the injuries or death of a person
- $30,000 for the injuries or death of multiple people
- $5,000 for property damage.
However, this will not be enough to cover your damages after a serious accident. Many insurance companies offer plans that provide greater comprehensive and UM/UIM coverage (such as an umbrella policy). In the event of an accident, the at-fault driver is personally responsible for covering any damages that exceed his or her insurance policy. For an uninsured or underinsured driver, if he or she was skimping on his or her insurance policy, chances are any judgment against that person will be unenforceable.
There are additional factors that can affect a car accident injury claim, so you should always speak with an experienced auto accident attorney if you have questions.
Filing a UM/UIM Claim in California
There is a statute of limitations for filing an auto accident claim in California. For UM and UIM claims, the statute of limitations depends on the type of accident and other factors. UM claims generally have a two-year statute of limitations, and there are certain steps you must take to ensure you can protect your claim. The process is different for UIM claims in California.
You should have an attorney review your policy if you are unsure whether it would be possible to file a claim. In addition, an attorney will likely be able to help you successfully arbitrate or settle your UM or UIM claim.
Contact Our Alameda Car Accident Attorney
Heinrich Law, PC has extensive experience with California car accident claims. Our law firm takes a cutting-edge approach to each case to give our clients the best chance of recovering compensation for their injuries or loss. You can read more about our experience with auto accident and UM/UIM related claims on our website.
Give us a call at (510) 570-1608 for a free consultation or fill out our contact form. Even if you do not have underinsured motorist or uninsured motorist coverage, there may still be legal options available to you.