February 27, 2017
California ranks 13th on the list of states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists. According to Insurance Information Institute, 14.7 percent of California drivers do not have the required minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage.
If you’re involved in an accident caused by one of these drivers, you could find yourself in a very bad situation. If you get into a car accident with a driver who is underinsured, you can make a claim against that driver and his or her insurance should be able to cover damages up to the policy limit. If the insurer accepts fault, or you prevail in court, the insurer will offer a settlement or compensate your losses. This isn’t much, but at least it is something. But what happens if you want to make a case to get compensation and the driver who harmed you has no insurance coverage?
Of course, you still have uncompensated losses when your damages exceed policy limits. You can try to get the driver to pay for those losses out of his or her own personal financial assets. If you have a judgement against the driver, there are enforcement mechanisms to try to collect. You could go to court and get a lien on the driver’s property, for example, or a court order to garnish wages and make the driver pay. Of course, these methods work only if the person has assets and income. If they don’t, then the old adage is true: you cannot get blood from a stone… or in this case, money from someone who has none.
If the driver has no insurance, you will find yourself in a similar situation, but will be even worse off. Since there’s no insurance at all, you’ll be left trying to collect the whole amount of damages from the driver’s personal assets. If they don’t have the money to pay, you could be out of luck.
You do have one possible additional option to consider. You could try to get compensated by your own auto insurance. California does not require uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, but some drivers buy purchase full coverage anyways. If you did, your insurer will stand in for the driver who was actually supposed to compensate you and you can get paid up to the limits of your policy for the losses that you endured in the crash. Uninsured motorist coverage can also pay your bills if you were hurt in a hit-and-run and the driver who harmed you is not able to be found.
Dan Carlton and his team are dedicated, down-to-earth, compassionate personal injury attorneys committed to helping victims of traffic accidents, personal injuries, dog bites and more. Serving Los Angeles and the entire Orange County area, including Anaheim, Tustin, Irvine, Garden Grove and Santa Ana, for over 40 years, we have handled thousands of cases.
Daniel C. Carlton