Modesto Uninsured/Underinsured Accident Lawyer
Fighting to Get Car Accident Victims the Compensation They Deserve
At the Law Offices of Dean Petrulakis, our Modesto uninsured/underinsured accident attorney can help. We have the legal know-how and experience to assess all your legal options and come up with the strategy that works best for you and your specific case. If you have been hit by a driver who has no car insurance, or a policy that is too low to cover all of your expenses, we will fight to get the compensation you deserve.
A car crash can be a terrifying and stressful ordeal. When you are hit by a negligent driver, suddenly you are forced to bear the burden of medical bills, car repairs, taking time off work to recover, and other painful and expensive tasks you didn’t have to worry about before.
These can become far more complicated when you realize the motorist who caused your car accident doesn’t even have car insurance. How are you supposed to pay your bills? If you have been hit by an uninsured driver in California, we can help.
What is UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE IN CALIFORNIA?
Auto insurance is necessary as it helps pay for injuries or property damage that can occur when you own and drive a vehicle in California. Under California law, you must carry auto insurance in case you are involved in an accident and injure someone else or damage their property.
The California law states that all drivers and vehicle owners must always be able to prove financial responsibility, plus they must carry proof of financial responsibility in their vehicle at all times. If you do not carry automobile liability insurance, you can be fined, your driver's license can be suspended, and the authorities can impound your vehicle.
What is the Difference Between Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists?
Uninsured and underinsured motorists are usually grouped together in insurance claims and personal injury cases due to their many similarities, but there are some key differences between the two.
An uninsured motorist (UM) simply doesn’t have car insurance. Uninsured motorists who cause car accidents cannot pay for medical bills and other costs for the person they hit due to their lack of insurance, so the accident victim must pay their expenses out of pocket.
An underinsured motorist (UIM) has car insurance, but their policy limits are too low to cover expenses for serious injuries and property damage. In California, the minimum policy limit is $15,000. Many motorists choose to stick with the minimum, even though $15,000 doesn’t even come close to paying for serious car accident injuries in most cases.
What Happens if You Get HIt BY Someone Without Insurance?
Fortunately, California drivers have the option of taking out additional insurance on their own to cover accidents with uninsured and underinsured motorists. Appropriately called uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) auto insurance, this coverage kicks in when a driver is hit by a negligent motorist who lacks their own insurance.
In California, your auto insurance company is required by law to offer you UM/UIM coverage. If you choose not to buy it, you must sign a waiver showing you were offered the coverage and decided to turn it down.
The following coverage is available on a UM/UIM car insurance policy:
Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI): UMBI pays for any injuries that you and anyone in your car sustains when there is an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
Underinsured motorist (UIM): UIM covers a limited amount of costs for bodily injuries if you are in a car accident with a motorist who doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for damages.
Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD): UMPD pays for up to $3,500 of damage to your car from an accident caused by an uninsured driver.
Not only does this coverage help drivers who have been hit by people without insurance, but it can also apply to hit and run accidents. This means that if a motorist hits you and then flees the scene, you may still be able to receive coverage from your UM/UIM insurance policy even if you don’t know the identity of the motorist who caused your car accident.
If you think such insurance isn't worth it, consider this—the estimated percentage of uninsured drivers alone in the United States is almost 13%. That means that one in eight people on the road has no auto insurance policy. Adding UM/UIM insurance coverage to your car insurance policy can go a long way towards protecting you and anyone else who rides in your vehicle.
Can I Receive Compensation If I Don’t Have UM/UIM Insurance?
If you find yourself in a situation in which you have been injured in a car accident but the at-fault driver lacks auto insurance and you don’t have UM/UIM coverage on your own policy, you may still have options.
First, you may be able to secure compensation if you have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP coverage typically pays for your medical expenses and lost income from missed work (as well as wrongful death and funeral expenses if needed) regardless of who was at fault in a car accident.
Suing an Uninsured Driver for Damages
Second, you can take legal action. However, if the person you are suing elected not to have car insurance in the first place, there is a good chance that they cannot afford to pay for your damages even if you take them to court.
Our Modesto uninsured accident lawyer will help you figure out which course of action is best for you. We are happy to speak with you during a free case evaluation, during which we will look at all the facts of your particular case at no obligation to you. We will help you review your insurance policy and explore other options to find the best course of action based on your situation and needs. If you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, we are happy to fight for you to receive the just compensation you deserve.
Contact the Law Offices of Dean Petrulakis today to schedule your free consultation with our underinsured or uninsured accident attorney.