No one wants to get into a motor vehicle crash, but they still happen daily in California. In 2014, the most recent year with statistics available, California Office of Traffic Safety reported 3,074 deaths due to car crashes. That’s more than eight people who die in a collision every day, and that doesn’t factor in serious injuries or disabilities that result from a major car crash.
If you’ve experienced an accident caused by another driver, that person’s insurance (or lack thereof) could leave you with a lot of uncovered expenses. You may think that carrying basic liability insurance when you drive is enough to protect you in case of a crash.
Unfortunately, you may be wrong about that. Some people choose to get behind the wheel of a car without a legal license or liability insurance. Others only purchase the state minimum insurance, which could limit your property damage claims to $5,000 and medical claims to $15,000 for one injured person or $30,000 for two or more injured people.
Uninsured and underinsured drivers can put you in financial danger
Even if you drive an older vehicle, it’s easy to see how a mere $5,000 won’t cover repairs or the cost to replace a vehicle. You could end up paying quite a bit out of pocket to repair or replace your vehicle after a crash.
Similarly, it doesn’t take a vivid imagination to see that $15,000 could easily get used up with emergency transport to the hospital, emergency trauma care and a few days in inpatient care. Surgeries, physical therapy and accommodations for injuries like wheelchairs could well exceed the amount covered by the other driver’s insurance. If you miss work, you could be left without a source of income and increasingly overwhelming medical bills.
Lawsuits won’t always result in financial recovery
If the other driver was unlicensed or uninsured, he or she could face criminal penalties after your accident. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to recover compensation from someone who is actively incarcerated. Even if the person who caused the crash works while in jail, the pay will be so low that there won’t be much coming to help offset your costs and losses.
In other cases, such as underinsured drivers, you may be able to go to court and win a civil suit against the driver for your lost wages, medical expenses and property damage. Unfortunately, that person likely doesn’t have the resources to pay the amount awarded in the judgment. A successful lawsuit could result in that person filing bankruptcy, leaving you unable to recover anything.
Paying a little extra every month for uninsured and underinsured driver coverage can help protect you in the event of a crash with someone who has terrible insurance or no insurance. Exploring this and other options can help ensure you won’t suffer financially for someone else’s mistake.