Although it is a requirement to have insurance to drive in California, many motorists are uninsured. There are also thousands of injuries caused by hit-and-run drivers each year. So what do you do if an uninsured or hit-and-run driver injures you?
In some cases involving motor vehicle collisions it may be necessary to bring a claim against your own auto insurance company. This typically occurs when the at-fault driver is either uninsured or underinsured. There is, however, a difference between uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
There are two (2) basic requirements that you should know about in the event that you are injured by an uninsured motorist or hit-and-run driver and are seeking to file a claim against your own insurance company:
(1) You must have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage.
UM coverage protects you in the event of a collision between an uninsured or hit-and-run driver and your car or your person. Basically, you are making a claim against your own insurance to cover the cost of your damages because the person at fault was uninsured or could not be identified. It is important to know that the UM coverage part of your policy will not pay for property damage to your vehicle, towing costs, rental car, or loss of use of your vehicle while in the repair shop. However, you may also have collision coverage that will pay for property damage, as well as coverage for rental, towing, and loss of use.
In order to file a claim against your insurance in the event of a collision caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver, it is necessary that you have UM coverage as a part of your policy with your insurance company. In California, an insurance policy must come with UM coverage unless you waive the coverage in writing. Although UM coverage is slightly more expensive than a policy that does not have it, it is typically affordable and it will protect you in the event of an injury caused by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver.
Call your insurance agent and verify that you have UM coverage, as well as collision coverage that will pay for property damage and rental, towing, and loss of use. If you don’t carry this type of coverage, add it. In the event of a collision with a hit and run driver, you will be glad you did.
(2) There must be contact between vehicles.
California requires that there be contact between the hit-and-run vehicle and your vehicle. “Contact” means the slightest touching, so it does not need to be major. Also, you will be required to file a police report in order to file a hit-and-run claim under your UM coverage.
In the event you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver who you can identify, you must file an SR 19 with the California Department of Motor Vehicles to prove that the other party was in fact uninsured.
In the event that an uninsured or hit-and-run driver injures you, it is important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Your attorney will know how to go about making a claim with your insurance company, and will be there to negotiate on your behalf in order to get you the relief you deserve. For over 30 years, The Law Offices of Vann H. Slatter have helped those injured by uninsured motorists and hit-and-run drivers receive compensation. Call today for a free consultation at (310) 444-3010 or toll-free at (888) 293-0404.