What If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver in California?
Every year when winter falls on San Francisco, driving becomes more challenging. Rain, cold and winds at this time of the year often catch drivers off guard, and then the crashes start. If you aren’t up to date on your insurance coverage, then this is the time of year to get everything straightened out. Especially considering that not every driver on the road has coverage. Do you know what to do if you are involved in a traffic incident with an uninsured driver?
How Dangerous Is Bay Area Driving in the Winter?
Thanksgiving weekend ended poorly for many Bay Area drivers this year. Thanks to rain, wind and unpreparedness, many drivers found themselves the victims of crashes, and some even lost their lives. On Highway 101, CHP responded to a crash where a driver lost control of his van, and was ejected from the vehicle only to have it roll on top of him. The driver did not survive. In Emeryville, a 10-year-old girl passed after the vehicle she was riding in lost control at the Berkeley Curve on I80. The vehicle she rode in spun out, crashing into a pickup that had also just lost traction and crashed into the center median.
Damage and loss of life in these incidents can be catastrophic, but it can be even worse if one of the drivers involved has no insurance. In California, drivers are required to have proof of financial responsibility, whether it be minimum liability insurance or a full policy covering over $100,000 in damage. However, not all drivers on the road adhere to these laws, and that’s when underinsured/uninsured driver coverage comes into play.
Is There Anything I Can Do If I’m Hit by an Uninsured Driver?
Most insurance companies have underinsured motorist (UIM) or uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, but you have to ask for them. These policies are often good investments as they protect you in the instance that someone without insurance crashes into your vehicle. These policies can even cover you in the event that you are struck by a hit-and-run driver. However, there are things you need to be aware of when it comes to these policies.
When you file a UM/UIM claim, you and your insurer take up different roles than you do in an ordinary claim situation. You will be settling the claim with your insurer, which means you will be in the role normally taken by the other party’s insurer. That means you will be negotiating a settlement, and this can be hard for the inexperienced.
This is one of those situations where you will benefit from having experienced legal representation by your side. A motor vehicle accident attorney can help you negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company in an uninsured driver situation, which makes contacting an attorney almost essential after getting into a crash. Remember, winter in the Bay Area can make driving treacherous, so be prepared.