What To Do If Hit By An Uninsured Driver in California
Nearly every state in the US requires its drivers to own at least a minimum amount of liability coverage. Still, there are those without even the minimum insurance required by law.
Typically, when you get in a car accident, the insurance company covering the at-fault driver pays for the damage. However, when someone without insurance hits your vehicle and damages it or injures you or your passengers, major complications arise.
So what happens when an uninsured driver hits you?
Option One: Suing the Uninsured Driver
Legally, you have the right to sue the other driver directly if they caused the accident. You can go after their personal assets to recover the money lost by property damage or personal injury. Unfortunately, most people who do not maintain even the minimum required liability insurance likely do not have assets of value that you can go after.
Option Two: Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
When you are involved in an auto accident with an uninsured motorist, you may need to turn to your own policy to cover your damages, assuming that you have uninsured or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This important type of coverage protects you if you are involved in an accident with someone who lacks the appropriate amount of insurance and is found to be at fault.
Regardless of the state of insurance coverage from the other party, you will want to do the following after an accident:
Call the Police
Even in a minor accident, your insurance company will require you to file a police report for the accident. You will also need to file an SR-1 form with the DMV and an SR-19 form to prove the other driver was uninsured. While your insurance company may not require this last step, it is important to protect yourself.
Trade Information With the Other Driver
While you wait for the police to arrive, you should exchange relevant information with the other driver. Try to get as much information as you can about the other driver and his/her vehicle. This information can include the driver’s name, telephone number and mailing address (a picture of the license will give you all but the telephone number), as well as the make, model, color and license number of the vehicle involved. Also take down the names and contact information of any witnesses who may have seen the accident take place.
If the other person is insured, even if underinsured, you and the other driver should also exchange insurance information at this time.
Document the Scene
Use your phone to take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident and the scene where the accident occurred.
Take pictures after an accident to provide documentation of the scene and any damage that has occurred, including:
- Vehicle damage
- The location of the crash
- Skid marks, if there are any
- Any street signs or landmarks in the area
Get Medical Treatment for Your Injuries
Even if you are not feeling pain or you feel your injuries are minimal, you should still be examined by a doctor. Often injuries caused by car accidents are not immediately apparent. Even in crashes involving minor impact, you can still sustain a serious injury. Go to the emergency room or see your primary care provider as soon as you can. This will also serve as evidence if you decide to sue.
Call Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can after an accident with an uninsured driver in California, call your insurance company to notify them of the crash. Depending on your policy, you may be covered for uninsured motorist, which provides you with extra protection in the event of a crash with an uninsured driver. California law does not require drivers to carry this coverage, so you will need to check your policy details to find out if you are covered.
Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
Issues involving insurance and uninsured drivers can be complicated. That is why you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with your claim against an uninsured motorist. The Law Office of Brent Duque can help you seek maximum recovery for your car accident injuries.
For a free consultation, please contact us today at 1-877-241-9554. Our dedicated staff is friendly and responsive, providing 24 hour availability and firm-wide commitment to each individual and family we represent.