For the most part, California residents follow the law and carry at least the minimum required vehicle insurance. However, there are still a few outlaws that drive without the necessary liability coverage and others that will commit a hit-and-run upon causing damage and bodily injury.
Even if the other driver in your case has insurance, it may not be enough to cover your damages or their insurance provider disagrees on the amount of damages you should be owed.
In a traditional negligence state, such as California, law enforcement determines who is at fault in all auto collisions. Oftentimes, one driver or the other is deemed full at-fault for an accident, though in some cases, both parties may be partially to blame.
If the other driver was found at fault for your recent collision, their insurance company will pay you for any damages or bodily injury that you have suffered. However, if that driver has no insurance, or the policy amounts are not enough, then a lawsuit may be needed in order to recover what you are owed.
In the case of hit-and-run collisions, the identity of the at-fault driver will be unknown, and therefore, filing a claim with their insurance company will be impossible. If your vehicle suffers major damage as the result of a hit-and-run, you may need to file a claim with your own insurance company to help you cover the costs of repairs
This coverage can be added to your policy, your premiums will be higher, and you will need to pay the deductible, but your vehicle will be repaired after a hit-and-run. Unfortunately, this policy add-on does not cover medical expenses, in which case, you may need to hire an auto accident attorney to help you locate the at-fault party and file a lawsuit for these costs.
Insurance Companies & Arbitration
Even if the other party is deemed fully at-fault and possesses the appropriate amount of coverage, their insurance company may not agree with the amount of reimbursement that you seek. In many states, private citizens are barred from outright suing an auto insurance company without first attending arbitration. Therefore, you will need to meet with the insurance company and give an honest try at settling the disagreement out of court.
At this point, you will need the help of an experienced lawyer to help you navigate your way through arbitration. This method of determining a fair settlement will be conducted by a single neutral party, but you should keep in mind that an award cannot be determined until your physical condition is stationary and ratable.
Carrying liability insurance is state-mandated, but oftentimes, you do not who is a fault for the damages to your vehicle or their policy is not effective enough to fully compensate you for the damages. These extra protections do cost more, but can go a long way to helping you be properly reimbursed. If nothing else, hiring a competent auto accident attorney will assist you in getting every penny you deserve.