Westlake Village Uninsured Motorist Accident Lawyer
It was time to stock up on groceries and other necessities before the start of the school year, so you went to your local Westlake Village Costco. It tends to get quite busy this time of year, and you could tell when you approached the parking lot that you may need a second cup of coffee to get through it all unscathed. But you didn’t even make it through the door. After you parked your minivan and took off your seatbelt, someone in a massive pickup truck backed into you, causing your head and neck to jerk violently front and back.
You felt numbness in your body, had a massive headache, and felt dizzy for quite a while after the accident. Subsequent PET scans have been inconclusive, but your doctor suspects you have a concussion and possible nerve damage. The guy who hit you looked nervous and hesitated before turning off the ignition and stepping out to check on you. You would eventually learn that he didn’t even have insurance coverage. So now what?
As long as you have insurance, you should be covered. But it’s not automatic and filing an injury claim when the at-fault party lacks insurance can certainly benefit from the help of a Westlake Village uninsured motorist lawyer at Walch Law. We’ll discuss the basics of uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage and related issues, including the importance of legal representation.Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage in California
Since you’re required by state law to have a certain base level of liability coverage as a condition of driving a vehicle in California, you’ve made it a point to pay your premiums on time. You also have collision insurance in case you’re the one at fault. But not everyone follows the law, such as the guy who backed into your parked car. For failing to get covered, he’ll likely have to pay a fine, may have his car impounded, and could have his license suspended by the California DMV for several years.
At least he’s facing consequences for his failure, but how does that help you? What if your injuries turn out to be quite severe and require a long period of rehabilitation? What if you’re unable to work for a while? Again, fortunately you followed the rules and also have uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage, per state requirements. This means your own insurance company will pick up the tab for the at-fault driver’s negligence, but it won’t necessarily be easy.
State law requires motorists to carry the following minimum coverage to account for injuries caused by drivers lacking adequate liability insurance:
- Bodily injury: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property damage: $3,500 minimum (may be waived if rejected in writing)
If you’re unsure about the extent of your policy (and keep in mind that sometimes the devil’s in the fine print), your Westlake Village uninsured motorist lawyer should be able to help you. Keep in mind, however, that your insurer may try to entice you with an early settlement that’s well below what your claim is actually worth.Who’s at Fault? Determining Liability
Most car accidents are the result of driver negligence, which means they failed to act in a manner consistent with that of a “reasonable person.” A reasonable person, for example, would have checked their mirrors before backing out. This legal responsibility to follow traffic laws and drive defensively is the “duty of care” owed to you and others in the vicinity. In order to establish liability through the legal theory of negligence, you’ll have to prove the existence of the following elements:
- The at-fault driver (the defendant) owed a duty to the plaintiff (the injured party)
- 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
Since they breached the duty they owed to you, thereby causing the accident that left you seriously injured, they may be held liable. If not for their breach, you would have safely exited your vehicle. You suffered actual injuries, so you’ll be able to make a monetary claim for your losses. Many accidents are also the result of each party doing something wrong. Luckily, California follows a theory of comparative negligence so even if you played a small (or large) role in your accident, you can still get money for the percentage of the accident that was not your fault.Why You Need a Westlake Village Uninsured Motorist Lawyer
While it’s good to know that your policy covers you for injuries caused by the negligence of an insured driver, don’t assume it’s a slam dunk. In fact, they’re motivated to keep costs down and won’t willingly offer a generous settlement. Additionally, California law permits insurers to deduct any amount paid (assuming the at-fault driver is underinsured) by their insurance company (or out-of-pocket payments made by an uninsured motorist).
For example, if the at-fault driver pays you $10,000 out of pocket for your $75,000 claim—leaving a balance of $65,000—your insurance company may deduct that amount and give you just $55,000. It’s confusing, but that’s why legal representation is so important in these instances.Get Expert Legal Help With Your Uninsured Motorist Claim
Life is great in Westlake Village, but not so much when you’re recovering from a serious head and neck injury. When someone else’s negligence is to blame, you have the right to seek monetary compensation. Get started with your claim today by contacting experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary K. Walch, a Law Corporation. We not only know how to win these cases but we know how to make sure that you get the money you deserve. Hiring us is easy- it only takes one call.