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What Happens if I Get Into a Car Accident in California and the Other Party Doesn’t Have Insurance?

All drivers in California must have automobile liability insurance. This is the law under the Personal Responsibility Act of 1996 (commonly referred to as “Prop 213”). Liability insurance covers you for injuries and damages you cause to another in the use of your vehicle. Current law requires that a driver have, at minimum, $15,000 in per person bodily injury liability coverage ($30,000 per accident), and $5,000 in property damage liability.

Prop 213 holds that if you do not maintain liability insurance at the time of an accident, and you are injured through someone else’s negligence, you may not recover general damages (things like pain and suffering). Instead, you will be limited to special damages such as lost income, and medical expenses. This is designed to encourage all individuals to comply with the obligation to carry automobile insurance.

Who Pays for the Accident if You Are Not at Fault?

If another person causes a car accident, and you sustain injury and other damages, such as damage to your vehicle, you may file a claim with the other party’s automobile insurance. Auto insurance is designed to “indemnify” – that is, stand in the shoes of – the responsible party, covering the responsible party for their negligence. This includes causing property damage, as well as bodily injury. However, what if the at-fault party does not have insurance?

Who Pays for the Accident When the At-Fault Party is not Insured?

In those unlucky instances where you are involved in an accident, but the other party does not have automobile insurance to cover your harms and damages, you have two options. First, you can look to your own insurance under a provision called uninsured motorist coverage. In California, all policies of insurance are to provide uninsured motorist coverage, unless that coverage is specifically waived by the purchaser of the insurance. You should not waive uninsured motorist coverage; instead, you should purchase healthy uninsured motorist coverage limits to protect yourself from the increasing number of uninsured motorists.

Second, if you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, you may sue the negligent driver directly. Just because the negligent driver does not have insurance, does NOT mean that the negligent driver is relieved of responsibility. Instead, you must pursue the personal assets of the driver.

Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer for Help With Your Claim

Although the law requires all drivers to maintain an active policy of automobile insurance, there are many drivers who do not purchase automobile insurance, or allow their policies to lapse. You must take steps to protect yourself, such as ensuring that you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage on your own automobile policy.

If you have been in an accident involving an uninsured driver, contact a car accident lawyer right away. You might think that your own insurance will treat you fairly, but this is rarely the case. The insurance company will treat you like an adversary, and will not offer you fair value for your claim. . At Benchmark Injury Law, our team of personal injury lawyers and case managers are experienced in uninsured car accidents and can provide clients in Irvine, California, with a unique and values-based approach to each and every situation. Reach out to us at (949) 504-9031 or fill out our contact form for help with your car accident claim.

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