California drivers must carry minimum auto insurance coverage, but many motorists still drive without insurance. If another driver causes an accident in which you suffer an injury and he or she does not have insurance, you may need to take legal action to receive fair compensation for medical bills, property damage and other costs.
Know what to do if you are in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Required minimum coverage
California law mandates at least $15,000 in liability coverage for personal injury or wrongful death affecting one individual, $30,000 for personal injury or wrongful death of multiple people in a single accident and $5,000 for property damage. Realistically, your out-of-pocket costs for medical bills and lost wages alone could significantly exceed these limits in the case of a serious injury, so you may need to pursue a lawsuit to receive full damages in an accident with a person who has only minimum coverage.
Uninsured motorist coverage
You can protect yourself from this situation by purchasing uninsured motorist coverage as part of your auto policy. If you or any of your passengers suffer an injury in an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident, you can file a claim up to the amount of your liability coverage.
When this type of accident occurs and you need to file a lawsuit to receive damages, you have just two years in California from the date of the accident to do so. The statute of limitations for property damage claims is three years. The court will dismiss your case if you file after two years pass from the accident. You must prove in court that the other person caused the accident due to negligence and provide support for your damages, such as medical bills.
After an auto accident, call the police so that you can get an official report. This document will be an important part of your negotiations with insurance companies and/or your legal strategy to seek compensation.