Encino Uninsured Motorist Lawyer
You and your friends were heading down Ventura Blvd. in Encino to your favorite Italian restaurant when the traffic suddenly slowed to a stop (this happens a lot). But the car behind you didn’t stop; instead, they rammed right into the back of your tiny Honda, crushing the bumper and deploying the airbags. You and two of your passengers sustained cuts, bruises, and a couple of broken bones. You’re also dizzy and fear you may have had a concussion, but it’s hard to tell at first.
The other driver tries to get away from the scene but is stuck in gridlocked traffic. You soon learn why—they don’t have auto insurance. So who’s going to pay for your injuries and those of your friends? What about your now-totaled car? You should be covered by your own policy, but you’ll still want to work with an Encino uninsured motorist lawyer at Walch Law to make sure you get the right settlement. Simply put, we know how to win these cases.California Law and Uninsured Motorist Coverage
You have liability coverage for your old (but reliable, at least before the accident) Honda, but not collision coverage. You know that state law requires a certain minimum of liability coverage, so you’re angry that the motorist who hit you decided to pass. Since the at-fault driver failed to have adequate liability coverage, he’ll likely be paying steep fines, may have his car impounded, and could have his license suspended by the California DMV for up to four years.
But that’s cold comfort for you. You’re the one with a totaled car and serious injuries. However, you also have liability coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists, which also is required by state law. So your own insurer has you covered, to a degree, but here’s where it can get a little complicated and why you may want to work with an experienced Encino uninsured motorist lawyer instead of simply filing a claim and waiting for a check.
California law requires the following minimum coverage for accidents caused by uninsured/underinsured motorists:
- Bodily injury: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property damage: $3,500 minimum (may be waived if rejected in writing)
It’s rare (but not unheard of) that someone causes a traffic accident intentionally. Examples may include road rage incidents or other “heat of the moment” cases. The vast majority of car accidents stem from the negligence of one or more parties. If someone is negligent, it means they owed someone a duty of care (in this case, keeping a safe following distance and stopping on time to avoid a collision). By failing to act in a reasonable manner, resulting in an accident and injuries to others, it’s considered a breach of this duty of care. If someone is liable for negligence, then they’re required to pay for the injuries sustained by the plaintiff (the injured party).
While most claims are settled with insurance companies, the plaintiff still must establish negligence by proving the existence of the following elements:
- The at-fault driver (the defendant) owed a duty to the plaintiff
- The defendant breached that duty
- The plaintiff’s injuries were in fact caused by this breach
- The defendant’s actions were the proximate cause of the injury(ies), meaning the injuries would not have happened if not for the defendant’s negligence
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages, such as bodily injury
Even though it’s your own insurance company that will be paying you for your injuries when you file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, it doesn’t mean they’re motivated to give you the full value of your claim. They’re businesses and want to turn a profit. And if they offer you a quick settlement, it’s best to turn it down until you understand the full extent of your injuries. Once you accept an offer, the case is closed–even if you discover later that you have additional damages you’d like to claim.
You should also know that California law permits insurers to deduct any amount paid, if they’re underinsured, by their insurance company (or out-of-pocket payments made by an uninsured motorist). So, if your claim is for $175,000 and the other party’s insurer maxes out at $75,000—leaving a balance of $100,000—your insurer may subtract the $75,000 you’ve already been paid and reimburse you just $25,000. It may seem unfair, but it’s the law.Work with a Skilled Attorney for Your Encino Uninsured Motorist Claim
Getting injured can be costly. When it’s the result of someone else’s negligence and they lack insurance coverage, you’ll want to get in touch with a skilled attorney for help. Call the seasoned professionals at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation today and lean more. We know how to win these cases and know all the tricks and arguments insurance companies try to pull to cheat you out of money you deserve. We will fight for you- get in touch with us now.