UNINSURED/ UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
Over one third of drivers lack insurance statewide according to the California Department of Insurance. Every automobile insurance policy must include uninsured motorist coverage unless the insured waives the coverage in writing. In California the minimum coverage is $15,000.00. However, to protect yourself you can purchase a much higher limit (before your accident occurs). Scott Hughes recommends at least $100,000.00 of Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Scott Hughes absolutely does not advise you to waive your "uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury liability coverage", since this coverage protects you, your family and guests riding in your vehicle.
Uninsured motorist claims are typically made in the following situations:
- The other driver "at fault" cannot be identified because it was a "hit and run" accident.
- The other driver "at fault" did not have any insurance.
- The other driver "at fault" did not have enough insurance.
The uninsured motorist coverage is designed to compensate you for a loss which you sustain, and which is caused by a driver who is uninsured, or inadequately insured (underinsured). Your automobile UM/ UIM policy applies even if you were a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or bystander, so long as the motorist who caused your injuries was uninsured or underinsured. An uninsured driver includes a hit-and-run driver, so long as there is some actual contact from the hit-and-run driver's vehicle.
Insurance Code § 11580.2 and the UM portions of the claimant's policy provide the ground rules for UM and UIM claims. Unfortunately, punitive damages are not recoverable as part of the UM claim, although punitive damages based on the insurer's claims handling may be available in a subsequent bad faith action. UM insurance coverage should cover the following losses:
- Loss of wages, earnings and income.
- Pain, suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life activities.
- Ambulance, paramedic, hospital and medical bills, including dental, x-ray, MRI and prescriptions.
- Loss of future earnings and earning capacity.
Under Insurance Code § 11580.2(i), there is a one year statute for UM claims.
A California UM claim can be very complex as it essentially creates an adversarial relationship between you and your own insurance carrier. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you find legal representation as soon as possible and we invite you to contact Scott D. Hughes, an experienced Auto Accident Attorney in Orange County, California practicing in State and Federal Courts for a free initial consultation.