Good reasons to have car insurance

California Law Requires you to have Auto Liability Insurance

If you drive in California then you must have auto liability insurance with bodily injury limits of at least $15,000/$30,000 and property damage limits of at least $5,000 per accident.  Please see our recent blog post explaining the various types of car insurance coverage.

Pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 16028, operators of vehicles in California must provide proof of liability insurance when lawfully asked by law enforcement.

Subject to California Vehicle Code Section 16029, if you do not have liability insurance then you may be fined $100 to $200 for your first violation and $200 to $500 for any subsequent violations.  Other penalties include having your driver’s license suspended and the car you were driving (even if it isn’t your car!) can be impounded.  In order to get the car out of impound, the owner of the car will be required to pay any towing and storage fees.

You should have more than the Minimum Insurance Limits

Depending on your financial situation, you should consider purchasing more than minimum required limits.  Even seemingly minor accidents can require accident victims to go to the emergency room where medical expenses can be significant.

You should have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

We strongly encourage you to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage in the event that you are injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver.  You will not be able to recover any money to pay for your medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering if the at-fault driver does not have any insurance and you do not have Uninsured Motorist coverage.

Accident Victims must have Liability Insurance to Recover Pain and Suffering Damages

If you are injured in a car accident and you do not have any car insurance then you may be unable to recover any money from the at-fault driver or their insurance company for your pain and suffering damages.  You can still recover for your actual medical expenses and property damage.

California Civil Code Section 3333.4 restricts owners and operators of motor vehicles injured in a motor vehicle accident from recovering for their pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, and other non-pecuniary damages if the injured person did not have liability insurance as required by the Financial Responsibility Laws of the State of California.

Exceptions to California Vehicle Code Section 3333.4

There are two exceptions to Civil Code Section 3333.4 that allow injured people who do not have insurance to recover such damages.  You may still be able to collect for your pain and suffering if your injuries were caused by a fleeing felon or by a drunk driver.

We are happy to offer you a free consultation regarding your car insurance to make sure that you have the proper types of insurance coverage.  Please contact us with your personal injury questions.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance

What is Full Coverage

When I ask clients what kind of insurance they have the most common response that I get is that they have full coverage.  Many people are confident that they have purchased adequate automobile insurance but in reality when a client says that they have full coverage they really mean that they have obtained the minimum insurance required by California law.

Here is a list of various types of automobile insurance and a brief description of each:

Liability Insurance:    This coverage protects you if you are sued as a result of a motor vehicle accident.  Your Liability Limits are the maximum amounts that your insurance company can be required to pay if it is concluded that you are at fault for an accident.

The minimum Liability Limits required for drivers in California are $15,000/$30,000.  The first number represents the maximum benefit that any one victim could recover from your insurance company and the second number represents the maximum combined amount that your insurance company will pay to the victims of any one accident.

The amount of insurance coverage that you need really depends on your personal situation and we will address that in a future post on this Blog.

Property Damage:    There are two types of property damage coverages, comprehensive and collision.  Property damage coverage typically has a deductible, which is the amount of money that your damages must exceed before your insurance company will start to pay for your damages.  The higher the amount of your deductible the lower you will pay for your property damage coverage.

Comprehensive:    This coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle and personal property inside your vehicle if it was damaged or lost as a result of fire, theft, or vandalism.

Collision:  This coverage will cover damage to:

  1. Your vehicle if your vehicle it is hit by another vehicle.
  2. Another person’s vehicle if you cause damage to that vehicle.
  3. Your vehicle if you are hit by or run into an object including trees, walls, curbs, etc.  This coverage will repair your vehicle regardless of fault.

Medical Payments:  This coverage will pay for your medical expenses if you or your passengers get injured in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who is at fault.  You or your household family members can also be covered as pedestrians who are injured by a motor vehicle.  Medical Payments coverage is particularly helpful for people who do not have medical insurance.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Bodily Injury:  This coverage will cover you for bodily caused by another motorist who does not carry liability insurance.  It may also provide coverage when your damages exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Property Damage:  This coverage allows the driver to claim for compensation to damages to their vehicle.  If you have collision coverage then the Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage will cover the amount of your deductible.

Accident Investigation Form

We have prepared an Accident Investigation Form to help you get all the information that you may need if you are in an accident. Please print it up and keep in your car in case of an accident.

Contact Wolfberg & Wolfberg, P.C. for More Information

Please call us if you have questions about the different types of insurance coverage.  Please call us if you would like a complimentary review of your automobile insurance coverage. We are here to help.

Do You Have The Right Automobile Insurance?

We recently handled a case for a client who sustained significant injuries in a car accident. The client underwent emergency surgery and was hospitalized for almost one month before he was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where he stayed for six weeks. Medicare paid almost $100,000.00 for the client’s medical treatment.

The driver of the at-fault car was from Europe. The driver had only recently moved to the United States for a high-paying job. The driver did not own a home and had few ties to the United States. The driver’s automobile insurance had liability limits of $100,000/$300,000, which means that the driver’s insurance would pay a maximum of $100,000 per claimant and a maximum of $300,000 to all claimants for any one accident.

Increasing Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The client’s own automobile insurance liability limits were $250,000/$500,000 and his uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage was $30,000/$60,000.  Most automobile insurance companies will permit you to purchase UM coverage up to your liability limits. Clients are surprised when I tell them that their rates will not increase significantly if they increase their UM coverage as much as possible.

Medicare Reimbursement

An injured person must reimburse Medicare for the money that Medicare paid for the injured person’s medical treatment. Fortunately for our client, we were able to get Medicare to offer a significant reduction of Medicare’s lien on the client’s case but the client’s insurance company did a huge disservice to our client but not encouraging the client to have the maximum UM limits.
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