When I interview clients regarding their personal injury case for the first time, I will always ask about their car insurance. First, I want to make sure they had it - if not, their recovery will be severely limited for violating California's financial responsibility laws. Second, I want to learn what coverage was available so I can best advise my clients of their options. Many of my clients will automatically say, "Oh, I had full coverage." However, few of them really know what that means. While some may consider themselves to have "full coverage," they might find out it wasn't that "full" after all.
In California, there are two kinds of auto insurance. First, the required basic coverage is what many people have. That provides $15,000 per incident to an injured party for their bodily injury, $30,000 total payments if there are more than one person injured per incident, and $5000 for property damage to another's vehicle. This is what your insurance company will pay. In some cases, you will be on the hook for the balance.
Second, optional coverage includes "uninsured motorist" (UM) and "underinsured motorist" (UIM). These two coverages are very important if the party at fault had no insurance or not enough insurance to cover your damages. Get at least $30,000/$60,000 in such coverage. I would recommend buying what you can comfortably afford because so many folks out there are driving without insurance, either deliberately or by mistakenly letting their applicable insurance policy lapse. You can also carry comprehensive and collision coverage. The amount necessary is basically determined by the value of your car. This will pay for damage to your car even if the other party had insurance. Your insurance will fix your car then go after the opposing insurance company for reimbursement. However, you may incur a deductible when utilizing your own comprehensive and collision coverage for repairs. Finally, "Medical Payments Coverage" (MPC) will pay for your medical bills in most cases, up to a certain amount - usually $2000 or $5000.
When my clients say they have "full coverage," we often learn they only have liability coverage to pay the other party for damages. They don't have UM or UIM coverage. They don't have comprehensive and collision. They don't have "medical payments coverage" which will pay for their medical bills much sooner than other avenues might pay. Also, they might have very minimal coverage but still consider themselves "fully" covered. Therefore, make sure you understand what kind of car insurance you have. Carefully examine your declarations page (the page which summarizes your coverage) with your insurance professional and ask yourself, "Can I comfortably afford more coverage?" In my opinion, medical payments coverage and UM/UIM coverage are the most overlooked options, yet they are perhaps the most important options to have.
If you need help with your personal injury case, call Robert Mansour at (661) 414-7100. Robert serves Santa Clarita and its communities of Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Castaic, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch and surrounding areas.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,