Being involved in a car accident can negatively impact you and your family. The accident could lead to major bodily injuries, emotional and psychological trauma, as well as financial difficulties.
As surviving a car accident often means lasting changes to your life, it’s best to file a car accident injury claim against the party at fault. However, the value of your claim will depend on the evidence you have to support your claim, as well as the type of auto insurance you’re carrying.
Why you need auto liability insurance
California law requires all drivers to cover the costs related to the damages and injuries they may cause in an accident. Purchasing automobile liability insurance is the simplest and most common way drivers choose to meet this requirement.
However, many drivers don’t have auto insurance. Across the United States, about one in eight drivers was uninsured in 2015, according to a report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). During that same year, an astonishing 15.2% of drivers in California were uninsured.
There are different types of car insurance coverage. However, some of them are not enough to shoulder the damages you might sustain or cause during an accident.
Car insurance coverage scenarios you need to be familiar with
Uninsured motorist coverage is the part of a car insurance policy that helps cover medical bills or car repairs if you’re hit by a driver without car insurance. Typically, when you’re involved in an accident and the other party is at fault, their auto liability insurance would help cover your medical bills or car repairs. However, if the at-fault driver doesn’t have car insurance, then you’ll have to cover these expenses yourself. In other words, uninsured motorist coverage can help alleviate some of the financial burden.
An underinsured motorist is a driver who has insurance but does not have enough to cover all the damages you’ve suffered. Underinsured motorist coverage helps pay for many of the expenses if you’re hit by such a driver.
California Proposition 213
California Proposition 213 (or Prop 213) is a state law that bars uninsured drivers from seeking non-economic damages. These damages include disfigurement, physical impairment, emotional and mental distress, and pain and suffering.
So even if you’re the victim of the accident, you cannot seek non-economic damages because you were driving without insurance. You are only entitled to property damage, medical costs, and other actual costs that you can prove against the party at fault. However, passengers can collect both economic and non-economic damages in this situation.
It’s important to note that Prop 213 has exceptions:
- If you were driving an employer’s uninsured vehicle, you can seek non-economic damages even if you’re uninsured.
- If the incident occurred on private property, you can seek both economic and non-economic damages against the party at fault. This is because California law only requires vehicles to have auto insurance on public roads and not on private property.
- If you borrowed an uninsured vehicle but have auto insurance for another car, Prop 213 does not apply to you. You are entitled to the full compensation of your insurance.
- If the party at fault was driving under the influence (DUI), Prop 213 no longer applies to you even if you have no auto liability insurance. In this instance, you can also seek damages for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit. The logic behind this is that the drunk driver is more negligent than you and should be penalized.
Dealing with insurance companies when filing car accident claims
After a car accident, you must document the scene of the accident and exchange contact information with the other party. However, you should never try to negotiate your car accident insurance claim on your own. It’s best to have personal injury lawyers represent you when dealing with the other party’s insurance.
To start your claim, your lawyer will send a demand letter, which will include the following
1. An account of the accident
2. A property damage claim
3. Medical records and medical claims
4. Loss of earnings claim
5. Total demand for damages
After this, the other party’s insurance will either negotiate or deny your claims. In case your claims get denied, you can still file a complaint in the proper courts of law.
The value of your claims will depend on the nature of your demand. Below are the usual car accident claims for damages:
1. Property damage
2. Actual medical costs
3. Future medical care
4. Loss of earnings
5. Pain and suffering
6. Punitive damages
Seek the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer
To ensure a successful outcome to your claim, you should never seek reparation on your own. The party at-fault will most certainly be represented by insurance adjusters and possibly defense lawyers. These parties will work tirelessly to dilute your claims and limit the compensation you could receive.
In order to get the maximum compensation you deserve from the party responsible for your pain and suffering, as well as cover all the expenses related to the accident, you’ll need the help of an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer. Mesriani Law Group’s experienced team of personal injury attorneys will work tirelessly to ensure that you get the maximum compensation you deserve.