Owning a motorcycle and riding it goes beyond just a part-time hobby; it forms part of your identity. As a rider, the thrill of riding on wide roads and wind hitting your face is something you enjoy. It goes beyond helping you move from one point to the other. Therefore, you try as much as you can to have the necessary documents and abide by all road use rules and safety regulations. However, regardless of how hard you try to follow traffic rules, there are always chances that another road user might not act as per the law and cause an accident.
It becomes more complicated and unbearable if you realize that the motorist is uninsured. Meaning, you may end up not being compensated for the injuries and property damage caused by the at-fault driver. It is troubling because California laws require that all motorists acquire sufficient insurance. Yet many of them don't have or have inadequate insurance, as they are underinsured. This situation might be challenging, mainly because you might have huge hospital bills that might cause you unnecessary financial strain.
If you or your loved one is involved in a motorcycle road accident with an uninsured motorist, contacting a personal injury attorney is a smart move towards receiving compensation. A Los Angeles attorney's intervention will significantly improve and guarantee your chances of finding adequate reimbursement for injuries sustained. If you have been injured by an uninsured motorist, The LA Personal Injury Law Firm would be happy to assist you.
Overview of Liability Insurance in California
The law requires that you must acquire insurance for your motorcycle in California. It is essential because the insurance will come in handy, settling injuries and damages caused in a motorcycle accident. The law provides for additional coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. This coverage for uninsured motorists is particularly crucial because, without it, it may be challenging to receive compensation if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
It is apparent that if they do not possess auto insurance, they might not be in a position to pay for the injuries and damages caused by their negligent behavior. Therefore you may need to file a compensation claim from your insurance firm to receive compensation for such damages.
Further, the law provides that your insurance policy must have a liability cover, that will come in handy if you are involved in an accident. The liability coverage is vital as it helps you settle claims and compensation if an accident is due to your negligence. Liability insurance has minimum coverage, as outlined below:
- $15,000 that covers for the sustained injuries or the death involving one person.
- A $30,000 policy that covers the injuries or the death resulting from multiple injuries.
- $5,000 policy that covers property damage.
In this respect, the two critical covers that exist are for bodily injury and property damage. The former is crucial as it covers the injuries sustained by you or your passenger if an uninsured motorist caused the accident. The property damage coverage is for material damage that may result from such an accident.
Other general insurance policies exist, such as comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for other occurrences other than a collision. Such may include but are not limited to fires, vandalism, windstorms, theft, or hitting a stray animal. Collision coverage will come in handy if you hit a stationary vehicle, guardrails, fences, or construction debris. It also applies if another motorist hits your stationary or parked bike.
It is vital to note that your motorcycle liability insurance will only cater for another party's injuries or damage. Meaning, if you find yourself in a road accident in which you are at fault, you might not be covered. In this case, the comprehensive coverage will come in handy as it covers both your responsibilities and those of the other parties. It will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are adequately protected if involved in an accident.
Additionally, if you possess a standard auto insurance policy, it will not cover your motorcycle. An auto insurance policy will only cover you if you own a car, a truck, or an SUV but will not cover a bike that you own. It is therefore advisable to separate coverage for the motorcycle, specifically, the motorcycle liability insurance. With this, you have a legal advantage in case of an accident.
Having an uninsured or underinsured insurance policy is a smart investment. This policy will come in handy when you are involved in an accident that an at-fault motorist has no insurance. As earlier noted, some motorists do not possess insurance at all. It is something that is against the law yet beyond your control. It is smart to protect yourself and have the damages occasioned by your involvement in the accident catered for in such a situation. There are specific steps that you should take if hit by an uninsured driver, as discussed below.
Steps to take When Hit by an Uninsured Motorist
In case you are a victim in a road accident in which the at-fault motorist is uninsured, you should consider certain factors. These factors will help you stay within the provisions of the law and guarantee you reasonable legal redress. Below is a guide that details what you ought to do if involved in an accident of such nature.
Call the Police
Typically, if a victim in any road accident, you should immediately contact law enforcement officers. It is part of the initial steps to secure justice and ensure that the case probe remains within the law. Therefore, you must call the police when an uninsured motorist accidentally hits you. The police will compile a report that will come in handy to ensure that you receive compensation for your injuries and damages.
As part of the evidence, you should take some photographic material such as the accident location, pictures of the wreck, and skid marks.
The only way to know whether the at-fault motorist is insured or not is by asking for their information. While the police are mandated to compile all information related to the crash involving any other drivers, you must have the motorists' information. It is also proper to collect any witness information as part of elements that will build your case.
Contact your Insurer
You mustn't take liability by contacting your insurance company. Your insurer will know how to handle your case professionally and consider specific factors before settling on adequate compensation. Critical among these specifications is the extent of the damage or injuries and your policy's particular terms.
If your policy had you covered against accidents involving uninsured motorists, you would subsequently receive compensation for most of the damages. In case this aspect is not covered, then your insurer will offer you direction on what to do next.
Seek Medical Attention
Seeking medical attention is a no-brainer, as one of the most critical actions that you should take. Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should immediately have a doctor check and ascertain the damage and injuries incurred. Sometimes, you might have seemingly minor injuries, yet there are more severe injuries that you are oblivious of, such as internal bleeding. Coupled with the fact that you are considered a vulnerable driver as a motorcyclist, it is evident that a crush might be more injurious than meets the eye.
As noted above, your insurer will pay for most of the medical bills and cater for property damage if you insure against accidents involving uninsured motorists. Typically, the at-fault motorist needs to take full responsibility, but those chances are limited since they are uninsured. It is at this point that your insurer takes over the liability. You should detest from doing certain things if you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.
What You Need to Avoid After an Accident with Uninsured Motorist
If involved in a motorcycle accident that involves an uninsured motorist, you must avoid doing certain things. They are as follows:
Refusing to Seek Medical Attention
Refusing to seek medical care is not smart after an accident. At times, if you sustain minor injuries, such as scarring or minor cuts that you can handle on your own, you would ideally want to resume your life without unnecessary hospital visits. However, if you plan to file for compensation of any sort, you will face challenges. A hospital visit will help you access a medical report that will be assessed later in deciding your compensation terms. Without this vital document, you may have to foot your bills without help from your insurance firm.
Regardless of the feelings, you have towards visiting hospitals or merely wanting to forget about the accident, going to the hospital is crucial and must never be voided.
Accepting Money as Compensation
In most cases, the motorist at-fault might panic in the event of the accident and decide to offer you money. They may do so because they understand the legal consequences, mostly because they were on the road without insurance. It would be best if you rejected any money offers, regardless of how minor the accident seems.
Accepting money might be costly in the long run since you aren't sure about the actual expenses that you will incur if you seek medical attention. Your motorcycle might as well be costly to repair later on due to unprecedented damage caused.
Leaving the Accident Scene Immediately
Leaving the accident scene immediately after might jeopardize your chances of receiving compensation or even put you in legal headwinds. If you immediately leave, the blame might be shifted on you, especially if the police arrive at the scene. You may find yourself labeled a hit and run motorist, something that will limit your chances of pleading for innocence. The law enforcement agents might presume that you were guilty.
However, you might have to leave the accident scene, especially if the accident is fatal. It is because seeking medical attention is paramount as your life is at risk if you stay long without medical attention in such circumstances. But always remain at the scene if not severely injured.
Making Unnecessary Claim on at-fault Motorist
It is unnecessary to make a claim on whose fault it is immediately. Investigations, later on, might prove the opposite. Understandably, you might feel enraged, especially when you deduce that the motorist was at fault in your fair judgment. Such a claim might be counterproductive even when the motorist is uninsured. Your case's merits with specific circumstances that led to the crash should be discussed with your appointed attorney. Remember, words said at the scene might haunt you later when seeking compensation, even when you innocently talked to the police. Measure your words.
Not Contacting Your Insurer
Failing to contact your motorcycle insurer would be a mistake in such a case. They are the ones who will be involved in the compensation payment in consultation with your appointed attorney. Handling things on your own without their involvement will not yield much when seeking compensation. Consider contacting them immediately as they understand the modalities of compensation for accidents involving uninsured motorists. They are your best bet in the circumstances and will dispatch an agent at the scene to assess the damage.
How to File for a Claim
Insurance policies demand that you must report if involved in a road accident regardless of the guilty party. The California law requires you to file the accident report sheet in the SR-1. It is to be filed at the California Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) and should be within ten days of the accident. It is particularly crucial when the damages are more than $1,000. Failure to do the filing might lead to punishment, including losing your driving license.
The filing is also vital as it enables your insurer to access police reports about your accident, witness statements, and photographic evidence. The insurer uses this to ascertain who is liable and at fault before doing compensation. The other motorist has a right to challenge such a determination if they feel accused wrongly.
You have a choice to select private or government health insurance to handle your injuries. In the event of either, through a process called the California insurer's subrogation, your coverage for health insurance will be demanded from the uninsured motorist. The process allows the insurance company to recover the payments they make if you seek medical attention and coverage the costs. The uninsured motorist at fault will pay them the costs after transferring the right to recover the said costs and submitting necessary legal papers.
Determining Fault in Uninsured Motorist Accident
It may not be possible to ascertain who is at fault when a motorcycle accident happens. The California law provides that negligent motorists should be responsible and held accountable in case of road accidents. As it is with all car-motorcycle accidents, you need to prove that the negligent uninsured motorist did the following:
- You were owed the duty of care by the motorist.
- They violated that duty.
- That the negligence towards that duty of care is the cause of the injuries or damages
Failure to honor the said duty of care means that the motorist did not yield to your right of way, was driving recklessly, or was distracted while driving. Other factors contributing to this include the motorist disobeying road traffic signals, driving under drugs and alcohol influence, or disregarded weather conditions. There are situations under which you need not prove negligence in ‘negligence per se.’
In this scenario, the uninsured motorist might have acted directly in violation of traffic rules to prevent road accidents. You will have to prove that the motorist violated a regulation, statute, or ordinance put in place to govern against road accidents. Equally important, the violation must have led to the damage or injuries resulting from breaking the regulations meant to prevent such accidents. Lastly, you must prove that you fall under a group that such laws protect.
In negligence per se, the driver might have been speeding, driving recklessness, texting when driving, or even ignoring a stop road sign. Sometimes, low vehicle maintenance might also be a reason for negligence per se, including driving under drugs or alcohol influence.
In situations where you are at-fault in causing the accident, the “comparative fault law” will apply. As per this law, involved parties will share the responsibility and liabilities in the road accident, and damages will be calculated based on your involvement level. For instance, if the uninsured motorist at fault is responsible for 60% of the injuries you sustained and responsible for 40%, you will recover 60% of damages occasioned by the motorist.
Calculating Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Involving an Uninsured Motorist
In calculating the amount of compensation to be awarded, the insurance company will look at the expenses you incurred for your injuries and damages. While market value for such injuries doesn’t exist, the insurance adjuster will rely on some established factors in calculating compensation. You will not receive compensation for the damages that are non-economic since the motorist is uninsured. However, you will receive compensation for medical bills plus any other expenses incurred and lost wages or income.
Specific variables will come into play while calculating medical bills, lost income, or wages. The process is relatively straightforward and will put in mind:
- An accurate representation of your inability or ability to report to work in case you sustain long term injuries
- A reasonable look at the much you stood to earn if you weren’t injured
- Your life expectancy
- An assessment of the injuries putting in mind the period expected for a complete recovery
- The current duties and the extent of the effect of the accident on your obligations at work. It will also involve any prospective responsibilities that would have arisen in your employment.
- An assessment of the promotions you stood to receive during your employment period
Additionally, you are entitled to the reimbursement of the repair costs associated with the damaged motorcycle.
Remember, you can also file for compensation in an accident involving an uninsured motorist if the accident led to the demise of your spouse. You will file it under the wrongful death claim for damages that include:
- Burial and funeral expenses
- Lost wages or earnings that the victim would have been entitled to if they survived the accident
- Compensation for loss of companionship and support
At What Point Should You Seek the Services of an Attorney?
Typically, your insurer is required to compensate you for the damages sustained in an accident involving an uninsured motorist. It should be automatic since you pay premiums to this effect, but in some cases, the process isn't seamless. Your insurance company might engage you in negotiations that might not grant you a fair offer. The best way to ensure maximum compensation is by hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit.
It means that the attorneys' choice to handle your case must assure you reliability and expertise to see you receive fair compensation. In selecting an attorney, you may have to choose carefully those focusing on motorcycle accidents, the experience in handling such cases, and their accessibility. Further, it would be best if you went for attorneys with good reviews and testimonials.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
You have a right to receive sufficient compensation if you or your loved one is involved in a motorcycle accident caused by an uninsured motorist. While it is a daunting task, you must file for damages. Contacting Los Angeles attorneys who are well versed in motorcycle accidents will help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Trust The LA Personal Injury Law Firm to handle your case expertly, owing to our many years of experience handling these types of cases. Our goal is to ensure that you receive legal representation to put you in the best position of finding justice and compensation. Do not hesitate to reach us at 310-935-1675 to discuss the details of your case.