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02 October 2014 By James M. Johnson 0 comments

What You Need to Know About California Car Accident Insurance Claims

What are the minimum requirements for car insurance in California?

Drivers must carry at least $5,000 for property damage, $15,000 for injury or death to one person and $30,000 for injury or death for more than one person.

Crashes involving uninsured motorists

One out of every seven drivers have no insurance coverage for their vehicle, according to a 2011 study by the Insurance Research Council. If you are involved in a collision with an uninsured driver there are only two options available for you to recover compensation: 1) Make a claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage for damages. 2) Take the individual to small claims or file a civil lawsuit. Unfortunately, most drivers who fail to buy insurance for their vehicle, have little if any assets or income.  You may win a judgment against them, but collecting the money may prove difficult.

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, however, you may file a claim for compensation with your own insurance company. This can certainly be done by you directly if you have a minor crash, but consider hiring an attorney to be your advocate on a collision involving more significant injuries. One difference, if you and the insurance company fail to reach an agreeable settlement, the case does not go to court. Instead, the case will be heard in front of an arbitrator who will decide what your settlement will be.

I don’t have auto insurance, but I’m not at fault in a car accident.

Under California Proposition 214, drivers who are injured in a car accident caused by another motorist are barred from recovering non-economic damages to compensate them for pain, suffering, disfigurement, physical impairment and other damages that are not out of pocket.  However, they may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment of injuries caused in the crash and property damage resulting from the accident.

Can my insurance rates go up if I’m not at fault in a crash?

Insurance rates do not go up if you are not at fault for a traffic accident. However, if you are deemed partially at fault, they could be impacted.

Are property damage claims handled separately than bodily injury claims?

Yes. Typically if you are injured in a car accident you will also have property damage to your vehicle, but these are separate claims and have separate releases. You can accept a settlement offer for your property damage prior to receiving a settlement for your injury claim. Make sure you read what you are signing, however, and there is no language in the release about general damages. Speak with your personal injury attorney about this further.

 Should I work directly with insurance company or hire a lawyer?

If there are no injuries involved you will need to work directly with the insurance company. However, people who are injured in a crash should consider hiring a competent personal injury attorney to represent them. There are people who choose to deal directly with insurance, rather than hire an attorney. However, an insurance adjuster is not going to ensure you are getting full compensation for all your losses. Typically, they will make a low-ball offer because they know you are not represented by an attorney and that you have no idea what your case is worth. People who are represented by an attorney will typically receive awards 40 percent higher than those without one. Consult an attorney before settling for less.

You had a car accident in California, but you live in another country or state.

Johnson Attorneys Group is licensed to handle all accidents that take place in California. It doesn’t matter if you live in another state or another country. If the accident took place in the Golden State, the attorney must be licensed here to represent you because the laws of our state apply. Your car’s insurance policy will protect you in California if you are involved in an accident while you are here. The opposite is true, if you are a resident of California and you are injured in another state or country we cannot handle your case.


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