Were you recently injured in a San Diego car accident? Were you shocked to find out that the driver responsible for the accident was uninsured or did not have sufficient coverage? Are you now dealing with your own insurance company, trying to recover the compensation you need to cover your accident-related expenses? Are you frustrated by how your insurance company is handling the claim? If so, an experienced San Diego uninsured and underinsured car accident lawyer can help by communicating with the insurance company on your behalf.
We are The Levinson Law Group, a respected San Diego car accident law firm with extensive experience working with clients who have been seriously injured in all types of motor vehicle collisions. Unlike other law firms, we only handle car accident claims, which gives us an unparalleled knowledge of what goes into these cases. We command a unique understanding of the insurance industry because several of our attorneys used to work for some of the largest insurers in the country. To learn more about your options, give The Levinson Law Group a call. We accept cases on a contingent fee. That means that if there is no compensation recovery in your case, you pay no fee. In most cases, we even advance the costs.
Car accidents are a leading cause of injury in California, and across the country. According to the California Highway Patrol, in 2017 alone, 3,904 people were killed in 3,582 fatal California car accidents. An additional 227,160 people were injured in 193,564 non-fatal California car accidents. In fact, the total number of California car accidents reached a ten-year high in 2017, a trend which seems to be continuing.
The national average for uninsured drivers is about 12 percent, according to the Insurance Information Institute
California Car Insurance Laws
All drivers must purchase car insurance to drive legally. Currently, California law requires drivers to maintain the following coverage on their vehicles:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 per accident
To comply with the state’s insurance requirements, a driver only needs to purchase this basic level of coverage. However, there other types of insurance out there, including uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage, or UMC, is a type of insurance that covers you if the person who caused the accident does not have insurance.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage, or UIM, is similar to UMC coverage, except that it kicks in when the at-fault driver has an insurance policy, but the limits of their policy are insufficient to compensate you for your accident-related expenses fully.
Many states require drivers purchase both UMC and UIM. However, California’s car insurance laws do not require drivers to buy either of these coverages. However, state law requires insurance companies to offer all customers the option to purchase UMC and UIM coverage. If an insurance company fails to obtain the necessary waiver of coverage, it may be required to extend the coverage in the event of a claim.
Why UMC and UIM are Crucial for California Drivers
Under state law, it is legal to purchase an insurance policy without UMC or UIM coverage. However, most drivers who can afford this coverage choose to add it to their policy. The reason is that car insurance is an additional expense that some motorists choose not to take on. And even if they do have a policy, many motorists choose to pay as little as possible, meaning their policy limits are low.
According to a recent report, California drivers pay about $957.08 per year in insurance. Although the average cost of insurance is among the lowest in the country, more and more drivers are skipping out on their obligations to maintain the required amount of insurance. Recent estimates place the rate of uninsured drivers in California at about 15 percent, making California the state with the 12th highest rate of uninsured drivers. There is about a one-in-six chance that the driver who hits you will not have insurance.
The best way to illustrate the importance of UMC and UIM coverage is through an example.
An Example of UMC Coverage
Assume that another driver drifted into your vehicle as you were driving along I-5 on the way to Ocean Beach. You come to find out that the at-fault driver recently lost their job and let their insurance policy lapse. Thus, they do not have any insurance. Because the accident was serious, you and your passengers suffered a total of $250,000 in damages. In this case, you could not file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company because they do not have one. You could pursue a lawsuit against the driver, but it is unlikely you would be able to recover anything.
However, if you had UMC coverage on your policy, you could file a claim with your own insurance company. If approved, the claim would compensate you for your damages up to the policy limit.
An Example of UIM Coverage
Assume you were on your way to take your daughter to lunch in between classes at UC San Diego. On the way, another driver runs a stop sign and hits your vehicle. You suffer fairly serious injuries. Later you find out that the other driver carried the minimum insurance allowed by law. However, between your medical bills, lost wages and non-economic damages, your damages totaled $300,000. In this case, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy would only cover $15,000, or a mere five percent of your total damages.
In this situation, if you had UIM coverage, you could file a claim with your own insurance company to recover these damages up to the policy limit.
Dealing With an Insurance Company After an Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver
You are a responsible and courteous driver. You follow the speed limit, yield to other motorists and pedestrians, and purchase a robust insurance policy realizing the importance of having ample coverage. You may reasonably assume that if another driver causes an accident, you will be covered. However, dealing with an insurance company in the wake of a car crash is not always an easy process.
Insurers portray themselves as compassionate companies that look out for policyholders’ best interests. However, insurance companies are out to make a profit.
When faced with a claim from a policyholder, insurance companies’ tune will often change from one of care and concern to strictly business. Insurance companies rely on taking in more money in monthly premiums than they pay out in claims. Insurance companies employ teams of highly skilled lawyers to defend against policyholders’ claims. The result for many accident victims is that, rather than feeling like their insurance company is on their side, they face an uphill batter to receive the benefits they have been paying for.
At The Levinson Law Group, our team of uninsured and underinsured car accident lawyers has significant experience dealing with insurance companies. Several of our attorneys used to work for some of the largest insurers in North America, defending these companies against policyholders’ claims. This provides us with an intimate knowledge of how insurance companies view claims and what motivates them to settle them. We put the knowledge to use in every one of our client’s cases, ensure that our clients receive the benefits they deserve.
What to Do After an Accident With an Underinsured or Uninsured Driver
If you have been recently injured in an accident involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist and have UMC or UIM coverage on your policy, the steps you take leading up to filing a claim are critical. Below is a list of things to keep in mind following a San Diego car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Report the Accident
Driving without insurance is a crime in California. Often, when an uninsured driver causes an accident, they will ask you not to report the accident. They may even offer you cash on the spot if you are willing to drive away. While your immediate concern may be the property damage to your vehicle, more serious health issues can arise in the days or weeks following the accident. You do not want to be in the position of having accepted a few hundred dollars for what was tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
Get Checked Out by a Doctor
If you report a car accident, the dispatcher will likely send a medical team to the scene to ensure anyone in need of emergency care receives it. Even if emergency responders did not take you to the hospital or you decided not to go immediately after the accident, make an appointment with your own doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes, car accidents cause serious injuries that are often not readily apparent right after an accident but can have a long-term impact on your health.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Under the terms of your insurance policy, you need to report an accident within a certain amount of time; otherwise, you risk losing coverage. When you discuss the accident with a representative from the insurance company, answer their questions, but do not volunteer any more information than necessary. Remember, anything you say to the insurance company can be used to deny or reduce the value of your claim.
Reach Out to a San Diego UMC/UIM Car Accident Lawyer
If you are frustrated by the insurance company’s response to your claim, contact a San Diego car accident law firm immediately. Having the assistance of an attorney will not only prevent you from needing to deal with the insurance company yourself, but it will also ensure that the insurance company takes your claim seriously. Insurance companies will try to take advantage of unrepresented accident victims, knowing that they may not have the knowledge or power to hold an insurance company to the terms of the policy.
Contact The Levinson Law Group for Assistance With You Underinsured or Uninsured Car Accident Claim
Negotiating with an insurance company after a serious accident can be challenging. It is best to work with an attorney who has your interests at heart. At The Levinson Law Group, our team of San Diego car accident attorneys has more than 40 years of experience representing accident victims throughout the process. As former insurance defense lawyers, Gordon Levinson and his team have the knowledge, skill and dedication necessary to effectively bring your claim.
When you choose to work with the San Diego car accident lawyers at The Levinson Law Group, you can rest assured knowing that you will have someone in your corner throughout the process. We begin by explaining the recovery process in relatable terms and make ourselves available to answer your questions whenever they come up. To learn more about your options, give The Levinson Law Group a call at 760-840-2304. We accept cases on a contingent fee. That means that if there is no recovery in your case, you pay no fee.
And in most cases, we even advance the costs.