When Auto Insurance Is NOT Enough To Cover Car Accident Losses
The losses after a car accident can be devastating, which is why there are laws in every US state requiring motorists to carry auto insurance policies to cover the harm to victims. Under regulations established by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV), drivers be in compliance with “financial responsibility” requirements, such as:
- Auto insurance coverage of $15,000 for injuries to one person and $30,000 for multiple victims;
- Depositing $35,000 in cash with the CA DMV;
- Obtaining a self-insurance certification; OR,
- Procuring a surety bond for a minimum of $35,000.
It is reassuring to know that around 85 percent of California drivers do comply with these rules. However, note the dollar values: With many traffic crashes, a victim’s losses could far exceed the coverage amount. The situation leaves you wondering about your remedies for an underinsured driver collision, since many people are familiar with uninsured motorist claims. Fortunately, you may still seek damages through other routes, and an Oakland car accidents attorney can help. Your options could include:
Auto Insurance Policy Add-Ons
Insurance companies in California are required to offer uninsurance and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage when you purchase an auto insurance policy. Unless you waived it in writing, you may carry this benefit through your own policy. Note that you do need to prove that the underinsured driver was at fault.
Another add-on that is available is Medical Pay Benefits, Med Pay for short. If you carry it, you can file a claim with your insurer to receive compensation for all reasonable, necessary medical costs. You do not need to prove negligence on behalf of the other driver.
If you declined to carry UM/UIM or Med Pay coverage, you will not have options to recover monetary damages through your own insurance company. The other driver does not carry a sufficient amount to cover your losses, but you might opt to pursue a lawsuit against him or her. If you prevail, you can satisfy the judgment by going after the defendant’s real estate and personal property.
Why Legal Action is Important
For practical purposes, your medical costs may be covered by your existing health insurance. You are not paying anything out of pocket, so your losses in this respect are minimal. It might seem like a hassle to go through your insurance company or file a lawsuit.
However, unless you take advantage of legal options, you give up important rights. Besides medical costs, you may be entitled to amounts for your lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses that impact quality of life. An underinsured motorist claim can be challenging, but it is important to prioritize your interests.
Get Legal Help from an Oakland Car Accident Lawyer
Your situation may seem grim if you were involved in a crash with an underinsured driver, but it is a relief to know that you have options. For more information about them, please contact Venardi Zurada, LLP to schedule a free case review at our offices in Oakland, Walnut Creek, or Redding, CA.