What to Do If You Are Injured By an Uninsured Driver in California
Using your own uninsured motorist coverage is typically the best option.
According to the Insurance Research Council, about 14 percent of the nation’s drivers are uninsured. In California, we have an estimated 3 million uninsured drivers out on the roads. If you have been unfortunate enough to get into an accident with an uninsured driver, the process of securing compensation for any injuries or damage to your vehicle has the potential to get very complicated. Here are some important steps you should take in the aftermath of an accident with an uninsured driver.
File a Police Report
Filing a police report is a good idea following any kind of traffic accident, because the police officer’s preliminary assignment of fault for the accident can be influential later on. In the case of a hit and run accident, you absolutely must file a police report. When filing the report, be sure to describe events with as much detail as possible but never admit fault for the accident yourself. Let the evidence stand on its own.
File DMV Forms
Right after your accident, you should file a DMV form SR-1. Then, you will also be able to file a form SR-19. Your insurance company may or may not actually require this second form, but it will be very helpful in any possible court actions because it can establish that the driver who caused the accident did not have insurance.
Understand Your Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Unless you have specifically waived it, your California car insurance policy should have uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage protects you in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver in which you are not at fault, whether you are driving, biking, or walking at the time. It will provide compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, etc. The main problem is that many people only chose the minimum coverage, which is $15,000 in California. So if you were severely injured insurance might not cover all your needs.
Consider Going to Court
While you cannot get a jury trial for an uninsured motorist claim, you can demand binding arbitration from the court. This process can be used to help make sure your insurance company provides fair compensation out of your own uninsured motorist coverage. You can also consider bringing a personal injury claim against the uninsured driver. However, in most cases individuals who have chosen not to purchase insurance do not have a lot of assets. This means that even if you win your case, it will be difficult to recover the money you are owed.
Hire an Attorney
Whether you choose to work with your uninsured driver coverage or pursue a personal injury claim, having a good personal injury attorney on your side is essential. Insurance companies hate paying out on uninsured motorist claims, so if you want to avoid accidentally accepting an unfair settlement, always get your attorney to review it first.