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California Law: The Limits on Damages for Uninsured Drivers

If you are driving without insurance and you are involved in an accident, you can still get an attorney and file a lawsuit for damages, but it’s important to understand that there are limitations in terms of your compensation for personal injuries.

It’s alarming to know that one out of every seven drivers in the United States are uninsured. This is also why most insurance policies now include uninsured motorist coverage to help with the associated costs in the event of an accident where the driver is uninsured. Drivers may also purchase additional motorist property damage insurance that will help with the damages to your vehicle or other property in the event of an accident.

In CA, uninsured drivers are barred from seeking non-economic damages in the event of a personal injury in a motor vehicle accident. This means that you may not get what you’ve hoped for if you are uninsured, making it difficult for you to claim for compensation.

What are non-economic damages?

Non-economic damages refer to compensation that is not categorized for a specific economic loss. For example, this may include:

Disability
Pain and suffering
Decreased quality of life
Disfigurement
Loss of compensation

The only exception to this rule is that if the other driver was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of the accident and was convicted of a DUI, the uninsured driver may seek non-economic damages in a lawsuit.

California mandates that as the owner of a registered automobile you should have insurance that has a 15/30/5 limit. The first number indicates the limit for bodily injury, while the second number indicates the maximum limit for all bodily injuries in the accident combined, and the final number indicates the limit for property damage for any single accident.

To better explain this, the State of California requires a $15,000 limit to bodily injuries per person and $30,000 per accident as well as $5,000 for property damage. This unfortunately means that if your claim is in excess of these limits, you will be liable. That is why it is important to have the right insurance policy that will cover you for the amount you need, to ensure that you won’t get any nasty surprises.

Before you decide to file a lawsuit claimed damages, make sure that you ask your attorney all the questions you need to in order to consider all your options. If you are an uninsured driver there may be limits on the damages that you can claim so it’s important to know what your rights are in terms of a personal injury lawsuit as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

Photo by C.M. Keiner/CC Flickr

 

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