Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Lawyers in Sherman Oaks

If you've been injured in a car accident by an uninsured driver in Los Angeles, here's what you need to know about UIM/UM motorist coverage to get the compensation you deserve.

Uninsured Motorist Lawyers in Sherman Oaks

Getting into an accident is always agonizing and can be life-altering, but it can be even more challenging when the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. If you have been hit by a driver who does not have adequate insurance, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who is qualified and skilled as an uninsured motorist lawyer in Los Angeles. Contact The Drexler Law Firm to receive superior representation and the fair compensation you deserve.

What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage in California?

Uninsured motorist coverage (“U.M.”) is insurance that covers expenses and losses in the event you are hit and suffer injuries caused by a driver who does not have adequate insurance. In California, your insurance company is required to offer you this type of coverage, but you can choose (and pay for) the amount of coverage. The lowest limits of coverage are $15,000/$30,000. ($15k for one person’s damages; $30k aggregate for more than one person’s damages).  If you decline to purchase U.M., you must sign a waiver. The waiver states that you were offered this insurance and chose to turn it down. It is always recommended that you purchase this coverage, especially in California where many drivers are uninsured or underinsured. There are 2 types of U.M. coverage: uninsured and underinsured coverage.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (U.M.) – This is protection for a driver who is hit or injured by a negligent motorist who does have any insurance (even though the law in California requires all drivers to have minimum coverage of $15k/$30k or deposit $35,000 with the DMV along with a signed Financial Responsibility form.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (U.I.M.) – This insurance offers coverage for injuries or damages when a negligent driver has insurance, but not enough insurance to cover all your damages. 

U.M. and U.I.M insurance coverage apply to bodily injuries, medical expenses, lost earnings and general damages referred to as “pain and suffering” losses. Typically, this insurance will only cover property damage up to a limit (usually $3,500) and only when the identity of the other driver is known. 

U.M. and U.I.M. coverage is first-party insurance, meaning that you receive compensation from your own insurance company after an accident that was someone else’s fault.

When Does UM/UIM Coverage Apply?

UM and UIM coverage apply whether you are injured while driving a motor vehicle, a motorcycle, riding a bicycle or walking. Such coverage only applies if the driver of the other vehicle was at fault for the accident and where there has been contact with that person’s vehicle.

Let’s assume John runs a red light and hits Mary’s car. Mary suffers a concussion and several fractured bones. Depending on how much insurance coverage John and Mary have, there are a number of alternative outcomes.

  • If John has adequate insurance coverage available, a claim can be made with his insurance company and an experienced personal injury attorney can pursue a claim for reasonable compensation up to the limits of John’s policy.
  • If John does not have insurance or has very low policy limits, Mary can pursue a claim against her own insurance carrier up to the policy limits of her own UM/UIM coverage. An experienced personal injury attorney can obtain fair compensation from her own insurance company either by settlement or arbitration. How much she can collect will depend on the limits of her own individual policy.
  • If neither John or Mary has any insurance, Mary can file a lawsuit against John for damages. If he does not have any assets, she winds up receiving no compensation. With good health insurance coverage, at least her medical expenses may be covered. 

Who is Covered by UM/UIM Insurance?

There are certain individuals who are covered under UM and UIM policies. If you have these policies, coverage would apply to yourself as well as the following individuals:

  • Any family member who lives in your household, including any relatives living in your residence, even if the person does not drive.
  • Children in college are covered since they are still legal residents of your home.
  • Minor children of the insured may be covered, even if they do not reside with the policyholder.
  • Passengers in your car are also covered unless they have been specifically excluded.

How Much UM/UIM Coverage Do You Need?

In California, insurance companies offer drivers minimum UM/UIM policies of $15,000/$30,000. These are very low limits and will not protect against the scenario where the negligent driver has little or no coverage. The medical bills for severe injuries will always exceed $15,000 and there will be nothing to compensate for pain and suffering. 

How much UM/UIM insurance you should have depends on many factors. The more coverage that you can afford, the better protection you will have when you suffer injuries caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Where available, high UM/UIM limits may be bundled with umbrella insurance, thereby providing sufficient coverage for the worst cases of catastrophic injuries or death. Umbrella policies are much less expensive than normal insurance policies.

Even where Medicare or MediCal are available, these services do not pay for all types of medical treatment and they do not pay for pain and suffering or lost earnings.

How Do You Make a UM/UIM Insurance Claim in California?

There are a few specific steps you must take to pursue a UM/UIM insurance claim in California.


  1. Call your Insurance Company – You must notify the insurance company regarding your accident as soon as possible. Some policies specify a time limit for reporting a claim.
  2. File the SR-1 DMV Form – California law requires you to file a Form SR-1 with the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of an accident if anyone is injured or the damage to a vehicle is greater than $1,000. Failure to notify the Dept. of Motor Vehicles can result in a driver’s license suspension. 
  3. Insurance Evaluation – After you have followed the necessary steps, your insurance company will investigate the accident and make a determination of fault. They will evaluate the police report, physical evidence from the accident and any witness testimony. 
  4. Arbitration – If your insurance adjuster refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, you have the right to demand an Arbitration. An Arbitration is the same as a trial except there is no Judge or Jury (an Arbitrator is chosen by the process set forth in your policy) and their rules of evidence are more relaxed than a formal trial.
  5. Insurance Bad Faith – If your insurance adjuster has acted in bad faith and has refused to properly investigate your claim or refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, you have the right to sue your insurance company for Insurance Bad Faith. You will need the services of an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to sue for Bad Faith.

Have You Been Injured by an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver in California?

If you are injured in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, it is in your best interest to consult with and retain a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer to fight for your rights. Even if you have UM or UIM insurance coverage, there are many challenges in pursuing your claim with your insurance carrier and securing fair compensation that you need and deserve from the insurance company. The Drexler Law Firm has the experience and a proven track record representing injured victims in UM and UIM claims. You will be well served by contacting us. We are committed to maximizing your recovery and making you whole again. Please contact The Drexler Law Firm for a consultation when you require the services of a skilled and passionate uninsured motorist lawyer.

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