Uninsured/Underinsured Driver Accidents

Vehicle accidents can have a significant and lifelong impact on the lives of everyone involved in the accident. Insurance can help minimize the financial burden of the accident; however, a substantial proportion of drivers in the U.S. are uninsured or underinsured.

Typically, in at-fault states, when a person is liable for a car accident, their insurance company compensates for the victim’s damages, whether economic or non-economic. However, it can get complicated if the driver is uninsured or underinsured. If you have been involved in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver in Encino, you should contact our attorneys at The Law Offices of Rosenstock and Azran. On this page, we shared more information about uninsured/underinsured car accidents in Encino.

Photo of a car accident

What is an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Accident?

A driver without any auto insurance (covering the vehicle or the driver) is an uninsured motorist. In contrast, an underinsured motorist is an at-fault driver with auto liability insurance (covering the vehicle or the driver) which is insufficient to fully compensate the injured victim for the full value of the claim (including medical-past and future, loss of earnings-past and future, out-of-pocket, pain, suffering, and mental anguish, etc…) relating to an auto accident. If the liable party is underinsured, that means they have bodily injury liability coverage which is less than the injured victim’s own Uninsured/underinsured motorist policy limits

By way of example, take a case where the injured victim’s claim has a value of $150,000.00, and they have automobile insurance with an uninsured/underinsured motorist policy limit of $100,000.00, yet the responsible negligent driver’s liability coverage policy limit is $25,000.00 for the claim. In that event, the liable driver’s $25,000.00 policy limit would be captured, leaving $75,000.00 in claim value yet to be obtained. Then, we would make an underinsured motorist claim against the injured victim’s insurance policy, seeking the “new money” sum of $75,000.00. That figure is arrived at for 2 reasons. First, the underinsured motorist carrier is entitled to a credit for the policy limit amount collected from the negligent third party ($100,000.00-$25,000.00=$75,000.00). Secondly, although the injured victim’s claim has a value of $150,000.00, the most that can be collected from the uninsured/underinsured motorist claim is $100,000.00, the applicable policy limit which the injured victim purchased when they bought the insurance policy before the accident.

Often, the liability coverage of an underinsured driver does not fully compensate for severe car accidents that result in substantial claim value. Whether the liable party is underinsured depends on the victim’s injuries and damages.  

Driving a vehicle without car insurance is illegal in Encino and the rest of the country. If you get into an accident and the driver is uninsured, they can be fined by the police for driving without liability insurance. 

You should call the police if you get into an uninsured or underinsured driver accident and avoid accepting any payment made by the liable party. The at-fault driver might offer you monetary compensation to avoid facing any repercussions for driving without insurance, but you should not accept any such payment. 

After an accident, you should try (as long as it can be done safely) to take pictures and videos of the accident scene, debris on the roadway, skid marks, the adverse driver, unusual conditions which you believe may have contributed to the accident, the vehicles, and gather information from any witnesses. Another important thing you should do is get the driver’s contact and insurance company information. Our office can initiate a claim with the insurance company/compannies by providing them with all the information about the accident. 

What are Car Insurance Coverage Requirements in Encino, California? 

In Encino, California, it is illegal to drive without auto insurance. If you drive without auto insurance in California, you can face fines, and your vehicle can be impounded. If the driver repeats this offense, the state can suspend their driver’s license for up to 4 years. 

In Encino and the rest of California, a driver must have minimum insurance coverage, also known as liability coverage. However, in some cases, minimum insurance coverage is not enough to compensate for the damages caused to the victim or their vehicle, which is why drivers should have additional insurance coverage, including uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

If you own a vehicle, you are required by California law to buy insurance containing bodily injury liability coverage. You cannot register your vehicle in Encino until you have liability coverage. The purpose of this liability insurance is to cover  bodily injuries sustained by an injured victim from an accident which you may have caused. The other components of car insurance, such as comprehensive or collision coverage, are optional.  In California, the required minimum bodily injury liability policy limit coverage is $15,000 per person and $30,000.00 per occurrence.That means that the most your insurance company will pay an injured claimant is $15,000.00; and the most they will pay all claimants combined, to those who are injured in the same accident is $30,000.00. In other words, if there is only 1 claimant, your insurance will pay a maximum of $15,000.00. If there are 2 claimants, they can each receive up to $15,000.00 from your insurer. If there are 3 or more claimants, then your insurer will pay a maximum of $30,000.00, to be divided among the claimants, with no one receiving more than $15,000.00. The minimum liability coverage policy limits law also requires a $5,000 policy limit for property damage caused by the policyholder’s being at fault. That $5,000.00 limit is separate from the $15,000/$30,000 policy limits for injuries.  

 Although an insurer is obligated to pay only up to the policyholder’s policy limit, the negligent at fault party’s legal liability may be greater than their insurance policy limit, in which case the policyholder could be personally liable for all amounts in excess of their auto insurance policy limits.

While policy limits are stated in terms of maximum dollar amounts, the injured victim will still have to be able to prove their case from a claim valuation standpoint. Just because there may be a larger insurance policy limit on the other side, critical skills will be required to capture policy limit amounts, by being able to skillfully prove that the value of the claim meets or exceeds the applicable policy limit. 

Where Will Compensation Come From After an Uninsured Or Underinsured Motorist Car Accident?

When someone is involved in a car accident with an uninsured party, filing a personal injury lawsuit can be a way to recover compensation for the damages. However, the at-fault driver must have sufficient assets to pay for the damages. 

Uninsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder when the liable party in the accident is uninsured and cannot pay for the damages. In most states, uninsured motorist coverage is optional and can be bought separately, while in other states, it is included as part of insurance coverage. Uninsured coverage can offer financial protection to the policyholder in a hit-and-run car accident.

Photo of two crashed cars

If you have underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company can cover all damages sustained in the accident after the underinsured driver’s insurance policy has reached its limit. Underinsured motorist coverage policies vary between the states but mostly cover all property damage, vehicle damage, any loss of income or future income due to the injuries sustained, and medical expenses of the victims of the car accident.  

You can initiate a claim against the uninsured or underinsured driver or file a lawsuit against them. However, personal injury lawsuits that include uninsured liable parties rarely end in the victim attaining compensation. That is because the at-fault driver may not have enough financial resources to compensate for the damages even if they are responsible for the accident. 

Why You Should Use an Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Lawyer in Encino

At the Law Offices of Rosenstock and Azran, we have been capturing adverse drivers’ policy limits for our clients for decades. We have the necessary skills and experience to recognize significant claim valuation indicators, symptoms, diagnoses, and parameters in the medical records, in order to convey them persuasively to the insurance industry and their teams of lawyers, and to prosecute a bodily injury claim; all for the objective of obtaining full and fair compensation for our clients’ claim.

Initiating an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim on your own with your insurance company can be tough, stressful, and often insurmountable, with all the paperwork and evidence that needs to be analyzed, submitted, and cogently argued. The underinsured insurance company can try to impose liability (fault) on you and/or technical medicine-based arguments (such as pre-existing condition, or lack of indicia for causation, pain and suffering) to minimize their payouts. In that case, hiring an experienced and skilled lawyer can help you overcome the insurance industry onslaught of defenses. We welcome Encino residents to contact us at The Law Offices of Rosenstock and Azran. Our team will fight to get the justice you deserve.