Uninsured or Underinsured Car Accidents in Sacramento
It’s been almost 10 years since California began requiring all automobile owners to purchase insurance. When you renew your registration every year, you must show proof of insurance, or your registration won’t be renewed. You would assume that every registered vehicle on the road is insured. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
If you or a loved one has been injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, things can get complicated. If the driver is at fault and uninsured, you will have to rely on your own uninsured motorist policy. If the driver is underinsured and the policy doesn’t cover all your damages, you will still have to rely on your own underinsured insurance coverage. If your insurance doesn’t include the proper uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be on your own. The best way to find out the settlement amount you’re entitled to is to contact our Sacramento car accident attorneys at Demas Law Group, P.C.
Uninsured Drivers in Sacramento
An underinsured driver typically holds a liability insurance policy that provides the minimum amount of coverage allowed by California law. Such insurance provides up to $15,000 in medical expenses to an individual injured by another driver, and a maximum of $30,000 for two people or more. If that amount is not enough to cover the damages that have been caused by the accident, the responsible driver is said to be underinsured. In cases of catastrophic injuries, even a driver who has more than the minimum liability insurance coverage can be considered underinsured – since the insurance policy limits may not cover the full extent of the damage caused.It’s important to note that while the driver of the car that hit you may be underinsured, he or she may not actually own the car. If this is the case, the car owner’s insurance company may be responsible for compensating you – if the car owner has insurance.
Estimates of the number of uninsured drivers in California range from 15 percent to 25 percent. Why do these car owners choose to ignore the mandatory insurance law? Generally, the reasons are economic. Uninsured drivers are more likely to be driving a vehicle that is old and improperly maintained. Your chances of being hit by an uninsured driver may be higher than you think.
I was riding my bicycle and was struck by an uninsured motorist. Does my own uninsured motorist policy cover my damages?
Yes, your uninsured motorist policy covers you whenever you are struck by an uninsured driver, whether you were in a car, on a bike or walking.
Under-Insured Drivers in Sacramento
Many automobile owners do follow the mandatory insurance law by purchasing a liability insurance policy. At minimum, these policies by law provide $15,000 to cover the injuries of one person and $30,000 for two or more people. For many accidents, however, the minimum is not enough coverage to pay the damages. Drivers whose polices don’t cover all the damages caused in an accident are known as underinsured motorists. It’s estimated that up to 50 percent of California drivers are underinsured.
If you were injured in the accident, seek medical treatment immediately, even if you believe the injury is minor. Write down all the details of the accident you can remember as soon as possible. Witnesses are crucial in this regard, so write down the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. Try to determine if the driver also owns the car. If the police didn’t come to the accident scene, report the accident within 24 hours. You should also contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Don’t attempt to fix any damage to your vehicle or property until it has been seen by an insurance investigator.The next step you need to take is to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the best way to recover damages from your accident.
The Best Defense: Sacramento Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Most automobile insurance policies offer the option to purchase for a minimal price additional insurance that covers accidents caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers. Considering the number of such motorists on our roadways, it’s one of the wisest purchases an automobile owner can make.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist
The best protection is an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, which is available from most major insurance companies for an additional fee. Considering the number of uninsured and underinsured drivers on the road, such coverage is indispensable.
I was injured by an uninsured driver and don’t have uninsured motorist coverage. Can I still be compensated for my damages?
Unfortunately, the answer may be no, unless the responsible driver has assets you can pursue for compensation. In such a case, it will be very difficult to find an attorney to represent you because a judgment against the responsible party would need to be obtained and collected on. This may be extremely difficult if the defendant does not have assets or a job.
If you do not have such a policy and get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may have to foot the bill yourself, unless damages can be recovered from the motorist by some other means (see our FAQ section for more information).
Sometimes Even Having Insurance is Not Enough
Even if you do have uninsured motorist coverage in Sacramento, you may still have to fight with your insurance company in order to receive fair compensation for your damages. You may be the best customer the insurance company has ever had, but they’ll still fight you for every penny. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will attempt to blame the other parties involved in the accident rather than pay you the compensation required by your policy.
Accidents caused by uninsured and underinsured motorists can be very complex and expensive. Insurance companies often don’t play fair, which is why you need a reputable Sacramento car accident attorney from Demas Law Group, P.C., on your side.
Insurance Bad Faith in Sacramento
Insurance Bad Faith
An insurance policy is a contract between the policy holder and the insurance company. When an insurance company fails to honor that contract, it’s not only in breach of contract, but it’s also legally acting in “bad faith”. That means that in addition to paying you the compensation you were originally owed, the company must pay you for any damages caused by the delay or denial of benefits, including pain and suffering. These punitive damages act as an incentive for insurance companies to honor their contracts in the first place.
Anyone who is covered under a particular insurance policy may sue if the insurance company acts in bad faith. This includes anyone named on the policy. Additionally, some insurance policies cover unnamed persons, who are known as “additional insureds.” For example, some automobile insurance covers any licensed driver you allow to use your car. If the driver is involved in an accident, the insurance company must cover the accident. If it doesn’t, the unnamed driver has the right to sue the company.
The insurance industry is highly lucrative and competitive. Essentially, insurance companies gamble that their policy holders will not get in an accident or otherwise have to collect on their policies. On average, that gamble pays off. But every time an insurance company has to pay out benefits, it takes a bite out of the company’s bottom line. Insurance companies that act in bad faith are maximizing their profits by paying out as few benefits as possible.
If an insurance company that has been acting in bad faith attempts to offer you a settlement, be highly suspicious. While the representative from the insurance company may seem to be looking out for your best interest, in reality the only thing that counts is the insurance company’s bottom line. They don’t want you to get fair compensation; they want you to go away. When a party offers a settlement on the condition you don’t contact an attorney, it is tantamount to conceding fault, and you should contact Demas Law Group, P.C., as soon as possible.
Yes. When you purchase an insurance policy you enter a contract with the company. Generally, that contract requires that the information you provide to the company is truthful. If it’s not, the company may be able to deny you benefits. However, if your policy is in perfect order and the company denies or delays benefits, the company is acting in bad faith, and you may need an attorney.
The settlement amount in bad faith insurance cases depends on the type of insurance and the level of bad faith involved. If the company acts in bad faith, you are entitled to the full compensation that has been delayed or denied and additional compensation for any hardship that resulted from that delay or denial. In general, the more egregious the insurance company’s behavior, the higher the additional compensation for pain and suffering.
At Demas Law Group, P.C., our attorneys are hired on a contingency fee, meaning you will not pay any legal costs until there is a settlement or a winning verdict at trial. Typically, after your settlement or verdict, your attorney will receive a percentage fee of the total case recovery, in addition to case costs. If there is no settlement or winning verdict, you won’t be charged any legal costs.
This literature may be considered attorney advertising or an offer of professional services, according to rule 1-400 Rules of Professional Conduct by the State Bar of California. The information does not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your potential legal matter.