What Happens When You Get in an Auto Accident with an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?

You can’t plan for an auto accident. Likewise, you can’t control whether other drivers on the road are carrying adequate auto insurance.

There are more than 23 million licensed drivers in California. Did you know that roughly 15 percent of them have no auto insurance whatsoever? We’re talking about 3.5 million uninsured motorists, and the scary part about that number is that it doesn’t include the millions of additional underinsured motorists. Many Californians purchase the bare minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per incident in bodily injury liability coverage as required by state law, putting you at risk of not being compensated appropriately for injuries or damages sustained in a wreck.

Why You Absolutely Must Have Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you’re not at fault in an accident, perhaps you assume that the other driver’s insurance will cover all the damages. But what if the other driver doesn’t have insurance? Or, what if the other driver only carries the minimum liability coverage, and you have a serious injury that forces you to miss a year of work? When you factor in lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering, $15,000 isn’t going to go very far.

The only way to ensure that you are protected for the full value of your claim is to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) with high limits. This coverage enables you to pursue an injury claim against your own insurance company in place of the liable driver’s absent insurance company. Without UM/UIM coverage, you might be left to pay for your own damages out of pocket.

In reality, an uninsured or underinsured driver is not likely to have a wealth of personal assets for you to go after in place of their insurance. And even if the at-fault driver does have assets, he or she could file for bankruptcy and discharge the judgment. If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, even a $1 million dollar injury claim could be limited to a mere $15,000 recovery, or worse, nullified entirely.

UM/UIM coverage is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to your liability coverage. You can add it on to your current policy at any value equal to or less than your liability coverage, and it will also apply when you’re a pedestrian, bicyclist, or passenger in another vehicle.

On-Site Checklist After an Accident

If you’re involved in a car accident, you should take the following steps immediately after the collision:

  • Get the name and address of the other driver(s), any passengers, and any witnesses
  • Get the other driver’s license and insurance information
  • Write down the license plate number, including state of registration
  • If there are injuries, demand that the other driver stay until the paramedics and/or police arrive
  • Report the incident to your insurance company, but avoid statements regarding the nature and extent of your injuries

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

If you are pursuing a personal injury claim following an accident, it’s important to hire a law firm that can help evaluate your options and fight to maximize your recovery. Any insurance company involved will scrutinize every aspect of your claim, and assign it to an adjustor, a defense attorney, or both. Belgum, Fry & Van Allen have prevailed in thousands of cases on behalf of individuals harmed by the misconduct of others; click here to get a free evaluation today.