Car insurance is an expense that many people would prefer to avoid–and some do, to the detriment of other drivers. The problem is that some types of car insurance are intended to protect other people if the driver gets in an accident. Car owners without those policies can easily ruin lives if they cause a crash. That’s why California has made getting a minimum amount of car insurance mandatory for drivers.
Despite the law, some drivers are still driving around uninsured. Studies show that people who are willing to risk driving uninsured are also more likely to take risky actions behind the wheel. If you’re a safe driver, you’re disproportionately more likely to get hit by someone without insurance than by someone with it.
This puts you in a difficult situation. Even if the person responsible for your accident isn’t insured, you still need those funds for medical treatment and vehicle repairs. Here are California’s insurance requirements and what you can do if you get hit by someone without car insurance.
Car Insurance Requirements in California
California law requires that every driver have “minimum liability coverage.” This is a policy that offers at least the state minimum amount of coverage if you cause an accident. In California, the minimum liability is:
$15,000 for the death or injury of one person
$30,000 for the death or injury of multiple people
$5000 for damage to anyone else’s property
You must show proof that you have this coverage to register your car. You also need to show proof of insurance when asked by a police officer or you’ll receive a ticket.
If you don’t have proof of insurance, you will likely be investigated to find out if you have a policy. If you’re found to not have coverage, you can lose your car and have your license suspended.
Six Steps to Take After an Accident with an Uninsured Driver
First and foremost (let’s call it pre-#1), if anyone in your car or any of the other vehicles involved is injured, call 911 immediately.
Despite the consequences, some drivers remain on the road without insurance. If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, you have to make up for their irresponsibility. Here are six steps you can take to make sure their carelessness doesn’t ruin your life.
1. Call the Police
No matter what, your first action after an accident should be to call the police. Insurance companies require police reports before they will pay out for any claims. The dispatcher will send officers to your location to check your car and write a report about who was responsible and what damage was done.
Having a police officer on the scene can also lead to the other driver facing consequences for driving uninsured. If you decide to sue them, the officer can act as a witness for their liability and uninsured status.
2. Swap Information with the Other Driver
Once you’ve contacted the police, you should make use of your time while you wait. Get the other driver’s information. This is probably when you’ll learn that the other driver is uninsured.
Even if that’s the case, you should still collect their name, phone number, and mailing address. Write down their license plate number and a description of their vehicle, too. If you have to go through your own insurance for compensation, this information will help prove that the other driver is uninsured. It will also help you get in contact with the other driver if you decide to sue.
3. Collect as Much Evidence as Possible
Next, take as many pictures of the accident as possible. Make sure you take pictures of damage to your car and any bruises or injuries you have. You should also take pictures of road conditions, where your car was during the accident, and where the other driver came from. If you haven’t moved the vehicles, take a few pictures of how they’re positioned, too.
These images are the clearest evidence you have of how the accident happened. More pictures are better.
4. Go to the Doctor
Whether or not you think you’ve been injured, it’s worth it to get a medical check. Car accidents often lead to whiplash injuries and concussions that aren’t obvious until hours or days later. Go to the doctor as soon as possible to make sure you’re not suffering from an injury that will get worse without treatment. If you are injured, learning about it as soon as possible is good for your health and any lawsuits you file.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Once you’ve gotten medical treatment, call your insurance company. Many people have uninsured and underinsured motorist policies, which cover your claim if someone else was responsible for your accident. If you have a policy like this, you’re better protected from other motorists’ carelessness.
An uninsured motorist policy will usually cover your medical expenses and car repairs in part or in full. Still, even if you have this type of policy, you may still need to argue to get the entire compensation amount you’re due. Remember, insurance companies want to avoid paying out claims whenever possible.
6. Talk to an Attorney
Finally, you should talk to an experienced car accident attorney. Depending on the harm you’ve suffered and your own insurance, you may need legal help to get the compensation you’re owed.
A qualified attorney can help you work with your own insurance company to receive full compensation. They can also help you decide whether you should sue the uninsured driver. Both options involve managing deadlines, handling significant amounts of paperwork, and understanding California civil law. Your attorney will help you stay on top of things so you don’t miss a small detail and ruin your case.
Protect Yourself from Careless Car Owners
California law is designed to protect you, but people can and do break the law all the time. If you’ve been hit by a motorist without coverage, then you need to pursue other options to receive compensation. This might be fighting your insurance for an uninsured motorist claim, suing the other driver, or both.
Whether you need to pay for medical expenses or you need to replace your car, working with an attorney will help you get the money you need to return to your normal life. Get your free case review today to discuss your options for moving forward.