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What to do When the Liable Driver Does Not Have Insurance

*Updated June, 2022

When two vehicles are involved in a car accident, it is common practice for the  responsible party’s insurance company to pay for damages, including property damage, medical expenses, and any other damages that stem from acquired injuries. However, according to, one in eight drivers is uninsured, with rates ranging from 4.5% of drivers in Maine to 26.7% in Florida. In California, 15.2% of drivers are uninsured, making a collision with an uninsured motorist a very real possibility for the state’s drivers. With such a large gap of uncertainty, many California drivers want to know, who pays for damages when the other driver does not have insurance?

At Heiting & Irwin our Riverside car accident lawyers are dedicated to helping car crash victims obtain the compensation they need and deserve to cover the cost of property damage, medical expenses, and other damages supported after an accident. If you were in an accident in which the liable driver is uninsured, you are not out of options.

Your Insurance Company

Car insurance companies offer “uninsured” or “underinsured” motorist coverage in their plans.  Many times people opt out of this coverage to save the few dollars per year that this adds to the premium – this is a mistake. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, getting the compensation you need to cover damages could be as simple as having us file a claim with your own insurance agency. That said, no insurance agency—not even your own—is going to make recovering optimum compensation easy. Your insurer will likely perform an investigation into the accident and employ challenges to your claims to minimize their pay-out. If they do, an aggressive car accident lawyer at Heiting & Irwin can deal with the company on your behalf and make sure that they do not lowball you, or worse, talk their way out of paying you at all.

When You do Not Have Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you elected to opt out of uninsured/underinsured coverage, your route to compensation will be more complicated.  Whether you have that coverage or not, to ensure the most successful outcome, there are four things that you absolutely must do:

  • Contact the police, even if the accident was just a fender bender, and get an official report written up;
  • Exchange information with the other driver and compare your notes with the police report to ensure that everything matches up;
  • Seek medical attention/evaluation, even if you do not believe you sustained serious injuries. You may suffer latent injuries, in which case medical reports will be crucial in assessing damages;
  • Get an assessment for auto repairs.

Our lawyers and staff can assist you with those four things.  Reach out to a Riverside car accident lawyer for guidance on how to proceed.

Recovering Damages When the Defendant Cannot or Will Not Pay

If the liable party does not have any assets, California Vehicle Code § 16370 and § 16371 state that, “A party can obtain a judgment against the uninsured defendant and file a certified copy with the DMV indicating that the judgment debtor has failed to satisfy the judgment for a period of thirty (30) days,” and that “The DMV will suspend the driver’s license of the judgment debtor and it will remain suspended until (1) the debtor gives proof of financial responsibility, and (2) the judgment is satisfied.” People need a license to get to and from work and to run errands, and many are unwilling to face hefty fines and possible jail times for being caught driving without one.

Get the Help You Need From an Aggressive Car Accident Lawyer

Recovering appropriate damages from an insured driver is not easy, but we try to make it as easy as possible for you. If you were in a car accident caused by another driver, even an uninsured or underinsured driver, reach out to the experienced Riverside car accident lawyers at Heiting & Irwin, for guidance on how to proceed with your claim. We serve San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, Southern California, and all of California.

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