Obtaining Compensation After an Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Crash
California has one of the lowest auto insurance minimum requirements in the country. Drivers who only carry the minimum cannot possibly cover all the economic and noneconomic losses in a serious car crash. The Golden State also has one of the highest uninsured motorist rates in the country. So, many drivers cannot even cover the damages associated with a parking lot door ding.
It’s difficult to obtain money from individuals. Many drivers are effectively judgement-proof because they have nothing but exempt assets, like a house. However, a skilled San Jose personal injury attorney can still obtain fair compensation for uninsured/underinsured crash victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
UIM Coverage Claims
Many victims have auto insurance policies which include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Payment rules vary in different policies. Generally, however, if the victim has economic and/or noneconomic damages with the tortfeasor’s (negligent driver’s) policy does not cover, the UIM policy picks up the slack, up to the coverage maximum.
These claims frequently settle quickly, and on victim-friendly terms. Claims against another carrier are usually quite adversarial. Many insurance companies will stop at nothing to fight these claims. But the driver’s own insurance company usually wants to keep its customer happy. Even if the insurance claim is tens of thousands of dollars, a few years of premiums more than make up for that payment.
If UIM claims do not settle out of court, they usually go to arbitration. Basically, arbitration is a private trial in front of an administrative law judge or other impartial hearing officer.
Third Party Liability Claims
Many car wrecks involve a vicarious liability theory. Tortfeasors are always legally responsible for damages. But they aren’t always financially responsible for them, at least in the ordinary sense.
If the at-fault driver was a commercial operator, like a delivery driver or Uber driver, the respondeat superior rule typically applies. This doctrine holds employers financially responsible for damages if their employee negligently injuries someone during the course and scope of employment.
California law defines these key terms very broadly. For example, if the driver’s actions benefited the employer in any way, those actions were within the course and scope of employment. This category includes things like driving an empty delivery truck to a warehouse or driving a company car which has the company’s logo on it.
Owner liability is a possibility as well. Owners are vicariously liable for car wreck damages if they knowingly allow incompetent operators to drive their vehicles and these drivers cause crashes. Victim/plaintiffs may use circumstantial evidence to establish both knowledge and incompetency.
Other possibilities arise if the tortfeasor was convicted of a crime associated with the wreck, such as DUI. Normally, as a condition of probation, these individuals must pay restitution. In other cases, the state’s crime victims compensation fund might be an option. Attorneys can help victims make these claims.
Rely on a Dedicated Santa Clara County Lawyer
Even if the at-fault driver had no insurance, or not enough insurance, fair compensation is still available. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.