Orange County Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Lawyer

If you have been injured in a car crash with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you need legal representation to protect your rights. Contact our Orange County uninsured/underinsured motorist attorneys at Beckerman Anderson to obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.

Every licensed driver in Orange County knows that they are required by law to carry the minimum amount of liability insurance. The purpose of liability insurance is to make sure that drivers are able to cover their victim’s damages should they cause a car accident. In spite of this law, however, a portion of Orange County drivers fail to carry the appropriate amount of insurance, and many drivers have no insurance at all.

In California, as in other states, many drivers purchase the insurance they are required to carry for the purpose of getting their driver’s licenses. Once the initial purchase has been made, they let the policy lapse. The driving force behind this is believed to be the state’s exorbitantly high insurance premiums which are double or even triple what they cost in most other states.

Once the driver’s auto insurance policy has lapsed, they often take a risk and drive their car just as often as they would if it was properly insured. Unfortunately, driving an underinsured or uninsured car can cause major issues if the driver is involved in an accident. This is where your uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist coverage would come into play.

If you are not at fault for a car accident, you shouldn’t have to pay out-of-pocket for your damages, especially if the other driver broke the law. Sadly, a lot of drivers have found themselves in this exact position after being involved in a collision with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist claims are complex, so if this ever happens to you, a reputable car accident lawyer from Beckerman Anderson can help. Our Orange County-based law firm has decades of experience successfully handling uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claims and securing full and fair financial compensation for our clients. Call our offices at (949) 409-4299 to schedule your free case evaluation as soon as possible.

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    California Car Insurance Laws

    In order to ensure the safety of everybody on the roadway, California law requires that all drivers carry insurance coverage of at least:

    • $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person
    • $30,000 bodily injury to multiple people per accident
    • $5,000 coverage for damage to property

    If an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist does not maintain the minimum amount of coverage, they could face serious consequences, such as being arrested and having their driver’s license suspended. Despite these actively enforced penalties, it is not uncommon for an underinsured motorist to be prepared to run the risk by driving to take the risk of serious consequences by driving without the required insurance.

    Uninsured Motorists Create Problems For Other Orange County Drivers

    Presumably, all uninsured drivers are oddly confident that nothing could ever go wrong. Even if they have managed to go through their entire lives up to this point without being involved in a car accident, uninsured motorist accidents can happen when they are least expected. If this happens, not only will they be in trouble with the law, but they could also seriously injure other people.

    When uninsured motorist accidents happen, the at-fault should be held accountable for all of the victim’s injuries and other damages, such as:

    • Medical bills
    • Lost wages
    • Diminished earning capacity
    • Emotional anguish
    • Permanent injuries
    • Physical therapy
    • Reduced quality of life
    • Loss of fellowship
    • Wrongful death

    Unfortunately, if the at-fault driver is uninsured, they don’t have a policy that will compensate you for your losses. You could exercise your right to file a personal injury suit, but if the at-fault driver can’t afford their car insurance premiums, they probably don’t have the assets to cover your damages. So, even if the court ruled in your favor, you would still be unable to recover your judgment.

    Due to the high percentage of uninsured motorist/underinsured drivers in Orange County, many car accident victims are left to deal with mountains of bills and other losses because of someone else’s irresponsible actions. Keep in mind that paying your bills out of pocket is not your only choice. You might be able to look to your own insurance company for assistance. A skilled UIM motorist accident lawyer from Beckerman Anderson can review your current auto insurance policy and outline all possible sources of compensation.

    Underinsured Drivers Present Similar Problems

    Drivers with no insurance to speak of are not the only ones that can force car accident victims into a difficult economic situation. Even though a driver might carry adequate insurance according to California law, it may only be the bare minimum. Every driver has the option of purchasing additional insurance, known as underinsured motorist coverage, to ensure that they and other accident victims are covered if they are involved in a serious car accident.

    Unsurprisingly, there are many drivers who choose to carry the minimum amount of insurance to keep their premiums as small as possible. Although this might save an underinsured motorist a bit of money every month, it can cause serious problems for the other drivers they are involved in an accident with. For instance:

    • Another driver crashes into your car, and you experience serious knee pain afterward.
    • The paramedics transport you to a local emergency room, where you receive diagnostic tests, including X-rays.
    • The doctor diagnoses you with a torn ACL and informs you that you will need an operation, ongoing orthopedist appointments, as well as physical therapy.
    • You will also require a medical device to stabilize your knee and various prescription medications.
    • Your recovery keeps you out of work for eight weeks, meaning you will not have any income for at least two months.

    Without taking property damage into account, your medical bills and lost wages alone are costing you somewhere around $40,000. When you file your insurance claim to have your damages covered, you find out that the driver who struck you only has the minimum insurance coverage of $15,000 for bodily injury, leaving you with $25,000 that will have to be paid out of pocket due to an accident that was not your fault.

    This is just one example of how an underinsured driver can cause just as much trouble as an uninsured driver. Your injuries do not even have to be as serious as amputation or paralysis to encounter this kind of situation, as even comparatively minor injuries typically cause more than $15,000 in injuries and other damages.

    Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Insurance Coverage in California

    Insurance laws in California acknowledge the fact that a lack of adequate insurance coverage leaves a lot of other drivers vulnerable after a car accident. Due to this, California law requires car insurance carriers to offer their policyholders uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage when they purchase or renew a policy.

    If you choose not to purchase either of these policies, your insurance company will ask you to sign a waiver stating that you were offered uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance coverage but turned it down.

    There are three kinds of insurance coverage that fall under this category:

    • Uninsured Motorist coverage for the cost of bodily injury to you or a passenger in the event that the at-fault driver has no insurance coverage.
    • Underinsured Motorist coverage partially covers the cost of any bodily harm in the event that the at-fault driver has insufficient insurance coverage for the cost of your damages.
    • Uninsured Motorist insurance coverage provides as much as $3,500 for any damage to personal property in the event that the at-fault driver does not carry any insurance.

    If you opt to purchase the uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage, which is the smart choice, your personal policy should be able to cover your damages even if the at-fault driver has insufficient or no auto insurance. Ideally, your auto insurance policy should offer coverage up to the policy limits. For example:

    • You purchase an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy that has a $100,000 limit.
    • You are struck by another driver who only carries $15,000 in insurance coverage, the minimum.
    • You still have $85,000 of your own insurance available to cover any remaining damages.

    If the at-fault driver in this scenario had no insurance at all, you would then have the full $100,000 to cover any damages.

    Orange County Uninsured Motorist Claims

    Uninsured motorist coverage makes things a whole lot easier If you are injured by an uninsured driver in Orange County. Unfortunately, when this happens, the insurance company does not just pop a check in the post. In fact, the opposite is usually true, as these claims tend to be surprisingly difficult.

    You are probably already aware that an insurance company is, at its core, a for-profit business whose main concern is turning a profit. In order to maximize their financial gain, they work very hard at reducing the amount they pay on every claim as much as possible. Many people believe that since they pay their premiums each and every month, the insurer will be forthcoming and cooperative when it comes to their uninsured or underinsured motorist payment, but this is rarely the case.

    The reality is that insurance providers are not any easier to deal with when it comes to their own policyholders. Every penny they pay out on your claim is a penny off of their bottom line. This means they will challenge every part of your claim any chance they get. This is just one of the reasons it is essential to have an experienced Orange County uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist lawyer from Beckerman Anderson managing your claim, especially if you were hit by an uninsured driver.

    To prove your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist claim, you will have to show that:

    • The at-fault driver behaved negligently, and this negligence was the cause of your accident and subsequent injuries
    • The at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your damages
    • How much of your damages remain uncovered

    Just as with any other kind of car insurance claim, you will also have to prove that the other driver was negligent. This means you have to show that:

    • The at-fault driver owed you a duty of care by driving in a reasonably safe manner.
    • The at-fault driver violated that duty by driving while distracted, driving under the influence, speeding, or breaking other driving laws.
    • The at-fault driver’s violation of duty was the cause of the accident and your subsequent injuries.

    You must also prove your claim’s overall value. This can involve submitting your hospital bills, pay stubs from previous months, expert testimony from occupational or medical professionals, and more. Establishing fault for an accident, especially one involving an uninsured driver, and the sum of your damages is a lot more difficult than most people realize. Our Orange County personal injury law firm knows the most effective ways of collecting, cataloging, and presenting all of the evidence necessary to support your uninsured or underinsured motorist claim.

    How Does An Insurance Company Challenge UM/UIM Claims in Orange County?

    Even though your claim may be 100% valid, you will most likely still receive a very low settlement offer or even find that your claim has been denied outright. Insurance adjusters are highly trained negotiators and have several tricks up their sleeves when it comes to challenging perfectly legitimate claims, such as:

    • Denying that your uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist policy even exists.
    • Claiming that you were liable for the crash and not the other driver.
    • Claiming that a hit-and-run driver never made physical contact with your vehicle or claiming that you caused the accident.
    • Attempting to decrease your amount of recovery by saying that you share in the liability for the accident.
    • Trying to lower your settlement award by downplaying the seriousness of your injuries, claiming you don’t really need medical treatment, or saying that you are physically able to work.
    • Insisting that you could have gotten cheaper medical care from another hospital or physician.
    • Challenging the fact that you will require ongoing medical care, physical therapy, or time off of work for recovery.
    • Downplaying the physical pain and emotional trauma the accident and your injuries have caused you.
    • Claiming that your injuries were not really caused by the accident but rather by some event that took place before or after.

    When the insurance company tries to challenge an aspect of your uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist claim, denies your claim altogether, or makes you a ridiculously low settlement offer, you need a reputable personal injury on your side. At the California law firm of Beckerman Anderson, we are no strangers to standing up to huge insurance companies to ensure our clients get the financial compensation they are entitled to, and we will not hesitate to file a lawsuit should it come to that.

    A person can even suffer a severe injury in a low-speed car collision, such as a rear-end accident in a shopping center parking lot. Victims can sustain:

    • Neck and back injuries
    • Whiplash
    • Fractures and broken bones
    • Cuts, bruising, and lacerations
    • Spinal cord injuries
    • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
    • Permanent disfigurement and scars

    How Do I Make an Application for Payment on a UM/UIM Claim?

    The first step in any kind of insurance claim is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Qualified legal counsel will be able to initiate the claim correctly and see it through by:

    • Ensuring that proper medical treatment is provided and a complete summary of future medical care that may be required, such as physical therapy, surgery, etc., is provided and that all of these are accounted for in a settlement demand.
    • If both parties reach an agreement concerning financial compensation to be paid to the victim, a release can be signed and payment issued.
    • If both parties are unable to reach an agreement concerning financial compensation to be paid to the victim, a request for arbitration will be made. From this point on, both parties will exchange information during discovery. That information will then be presented to an arbitrator in the form of billing and medical records, plaintiff testimony, and expert testimony. If the arbitrator finds in favor of the plaintiff, a settlement award deemed sufficient to cover damages will be offered.

    Suing an Insurance Company for Bad Faith or Breach of Contract

    In the event that your insurance company wrongfully handles your claim by a low offer or delay, or they wrongfully deny your claim, you can file a suit against the company for additional damages.

    When you purchase an insurance policy and pay your monthly premiums, you understandably expect the insurance company to be on your side, investigate in a timely manner, answer all communications, and offer you an equitable settlement to resolve your claim since these actions are required by your policy, which is technically a contract between you and the insurance company. If they fail to do any of these things, then they are in violation of California law, specifically the California Insurance Code, Section 790.03(h). The company has not lived up to its end of the deal and may be subject to significant damages.

    When you purchased your auto insurance policy, you paid a premium. If you were involved in a car accident, required medical treatment, or incurred a bill that should have been covered by your policy, but your insurance carrier wrongfully refused prompt payment, then you most likely have a separate cause of action against them, along with your initial claim for damages caused by the accident.

    Every insurance policy requires that the issuing company act in good faith when they review a claim and decide what action they are going to take. If the insurance company failed to perform a thorough investigation or tried to get you to accept a settlement that is less than the true value of your claim, you could have a valid bad faith claim against them through which you can recover your benefits and additional losses.

    For instance, if you can successfully prove a bad faith claim, you could be awarded additional compensation for the intentional infliction of fraud and emotional despair. You would then be eligible to receive exemplary or punitive damages, which often surpass the amount owed under the contract.

    Statute of Limitations

    Every state has a deadline for filing a civil claim. If this deadline, known as the statute of limitations, lapses before you file, you will be barred from collecting any financial compensation whatsoever.

    Since these deadlines can vary and exceptions do apply, it is important that you understand the statute as it applies to each type of claim. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for an uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist claim in California was one year from the cause of action but was recently modified to allow claimants two years to file. Keep in mind that each personal injury claim is unique, and your particular set of circumstances might be beholden to a different set of rules, including the statute of limitations.

    A reputable car accident attorney who understands California’s nuanced personal injury laws can advise you on the proper statute for your claim and tell you the proper way to file for arbitration. Reach out to the Orange County personal injury lawyers at Beckerman Anderson to schedule your complimentary consultation today.

    A civil suit for bad faith or breach of contract has to be filed within a predetermined time frame with the appropriate court after the company denies your claim for the final time. Once the statute of limitations lapses, it is going to be extremely hard, if not impossible, for you to proceed with the lawsuit, and your claim will probably be thrown out. This is why it is vital to make certain that you know the statute of limitations as it applies to your specific case t and the legal process that follows.

    California insurance law is incredibly tricky, so we encourage you to seek qualified legal representation from our firm as soon as possible after being injured in a car accident with an uninsured motorist or an underinsured motorist.

    What If My UM/UIM Insurance Coverage Isn’t Sufficient To Cover My Damages?

    The United States has some of the most expensive medical care in the developed world. This means that medical bills and other accident-related damages can quickly become unmanageable. It is not uncommon for an Orange County car accident to leave a victim with damages that far exceed the coverage limits of their insurance policy, especially in cases that involve catastrophic injuries or fatalities.

    When you sign with our law firm, our attorneys devote a significant amount of energy and time to analyzing all of your options for financial recovery. In many cases, there are additional recovery options through which victims can be compensated, provided that liability can be established, such as filing a civil suit against:

    • The At-Fault Driver: If an uninsured or underinsured driver negligently causes a car accident with injuries, it is possible to bring a lawsuit against them for other damages that are not covered by the liability portion of the car insurance policy or by the victim’s own uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist policy. Since it is never a sure thing that a driver who carries little to no insurance coverage will have the assets needed to cover any judgment, this isn’t always the greatest option. It is, however, another reason to purchase an ample amount of uninsured motorist/underinsured motorist coverage.
    • Other Contributing Drivers: It might be possible to pursue financial compensation from another driver or drivers who contributed to the accident, such as a crash that involved multiple vehicles. If the uninsured driver was operating a commercial vehicle, such as a tractor-trailer, you could also pursue financial compensation from the insurance policy held by the business itself.
    • Defective Product Manufacturers: If a manufacturer or distributor made or sold faulty products or defective motor vehicle parts that contributed to the accident, they can also be held responsible for any damages to victims regardless of whether the faulty or malfunctioning product was a contributing factor in the accident or the proximate cause. Examples include accidents caused by a faulty luggage rack that fails to secure cargo properly or a blowout resulting from a defective tire.
    • Government Agencies: The government entities that are responsible for designing, building, and maintaining safe roadways can be held liable for their respective percentage of fault if a road hazard, poorly designed intersection, broken traffic light, etc. contributed to your Orange County car accident.
    • Rideshare Services/Cab Companies: Patrons who hire a rideshare service like Lyft or Uber or who use a cab are generally covered by the business’s commercial auto insurance policy, which typically provides about $1 million in coverage. If a patron or a rideshare driver is injured by an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist during a rideshare accident, they should be covered by the company’s commercial insurance policy.
    • A Restaurant, Bar, or Social Host: Although they do exist, California has recently passed legislation that heavily limits third-party liability under dram shop laws. Dram shop laws are used to hold restaurants, clubs, bars, and other similar establishments monetarily liable for damages caused when they overserve a patron who is then involved in a drunk driving crash.

    California adheres to the rules of pure comparative negligence in standard personal injury cases. Where pure comparative negligence is concerned, liability and fault are able to be distributed across several different parties involved in the accident. These laws also mean that even if a driver was primarily or partly liable for their own car accident, they are still entitled to seek financial compensation from the other at-fault parties involved, although their total settlement award will be decreased by their percentage of fault.

    Contact Our Accomplished California Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Accident Attorneys Right Away

    For experienced help with your California uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist claim, contact the legal team at Beckerman Anderson. We have recovered millions in damages for our personal injury clients. Give us a call at (949) 409-4299, or use the contact form on our website to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation and find out what we can do for you.

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