California Requires That Drivers Have Car Insurance:
While California law requires that all drivers carry bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage, do not assume everyone on the road has it. At Allegiance Law, our experienced personal injury attorneys have handled many cases involving accidents where the driver at fault maintained little or no car insurance. We can help you obtain just compensation for your injuries and damages even if the negligent party was not covered by insurance.
Is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UIM) insurance required in California?
In California, insurance companies must offer you this coverage, but you are not required to purchase it as part of your policy. If you choose not to buy it, you must sign a form called a waiver. The form states that you were offered the coverage and turned it down.
What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance covers you if you are in an accident with a person who is proven to be at fault for the accident and who has no or little liability insurance.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: If an uninsured driver is at fault for an accident that causes you injury and/or property damage, your UIM policy will compensate you for your injuries and damages.
Underinsured motorist: If an at fault driver does not have enough insurance to pay for all of your damages, your UIM policy will supplement the difference between what that party’s policy limit is and what your claim is valued at, subject to your policy limit. For example:
- You are rear-ended by a motorist with a minimum policy of $15,000.00, but you suffered serious injury and expenses that exceed that amount. You can settle with that party for their policy limit of $15,000.00 and also pursue a claim under your underinsured motorist coverage for additional compensation that will make you whole.
- In the above example, if you did not have underinsured motorist coverage, even though your damages exceeded $15,000.00, you would only be entitled to the $15,000.00 in coverage by the party that caused your injuries and damages.
Who is Covered Under An Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim?
Aside from the policyholder, if you were a passenger in a vehicle where the driver had UIM insurance, you may be covered under that policy. Additionally, as a pedestrian or bicyclist, you may be covered if you or a relative you live with has UIM coverage.
Physical Contact Between the Two Vehicles Is Required:
Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance requires that there be physical contact between two objects. Such contact is not limited to the types of contact found in the typical automobile accident, motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or pedestrian accident. Physical contact occurs not only when the insured or the insured’s vehicle is struck by another’s vehicle, but can also occur when an object from a vehicle strikes the insured or the insured’s vehicle.
As an example of this scenario, the courts have determined that physical contact occurred, for purposes of UIM coverage, when a rock fell from an unknown vehicle and struck the victim’s car. However, courts have also found that no uninsured motorist coverage is permissible where injuries resulted from a collision between the insured’s car and a box of chairs already lying in the road. The distinction of when one is covered or not in these types of accidents can be complicated. Therefore, please contact our office to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your specific claim.
Settlement In an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Claim Coverage:
In order to settle an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, the injured insured party must still prove liability against the uninsured or underinsured motorist. If there is no possibility of a case against the party who struck you, then your UIM policy will not compensate you. You must first prove that the other party was at fault and show that the other driver was either uninsured or underinsured.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine who was at fault in an accident. Occasionally, both parties may bear a percentage of the fault; in California this is known as comparative negligence. Therefore, it is important in these situations to speak to an expert. Please call our office to speak with an experienced uninsured or underinsured motorist attorney. Allegiance Law offers a free consultation.
You may contact Allegiance Law, experienced uninsured and underinsured motorist attorneys, at (415) 404-6395. Or you may contact us by filling out the client inquiry form on this page.