Riding a Motorcycle Without Insurance: Can I Still Sue the Driver Who Hit Me If He Isn’t Insured?
It might be an understatement to say that motorcycles are popular in California. After all, thanks to the state’s pleasant weather for road trips all-year round, scenic vistas, and constant traffic jams, this affordable transportation option moves around 800,000 Californians each day. California is teeming with motorcycles, with a pretty clear downside that every motorist in the state should be aware of: motorcycle accidents are on the rise.
According to the Berkeley University of California, the state has seen a considerable increase in motorcycle accidents each year since at least 2011, jumping up 200% in just the last five years. And worsening the issue is that around 14 to 16% of all motorists in California drive without any form of financial protection. It may be due to a variety of reasons, ranging from the cost of motorcycle insurance, to the social background of many drivers. Unfortunately, many motorcycle riders come from lower-income backgrounds that make competent insurance difficult to access.
With this in mind, there is a significant likelihood of getting into an accident while riding a motorcycle without insurance. This can put law-abiding citizens like you in the difficult position of losing thousands of dollars in repair costs and other damages.
So, after such an accident, you will likely ask yourself: Can I sue a driver who hit me with no insurance? In today’s blog we are going to review these cases, in particular:
- Laws in California regarding uninsured motorists
- Can I sue a driver who hit me with no insurance?
- What legal help can I get in case of an uninsured accident?
Got into a motorcycle accident in California?
Laws in California Regarding Uninsured Motorists
The good news is that California has very clear laws regarding vehicle financial responsibility. It is a pretty serious offense to anyone riding a motorcycle without comprehensive coverage, but the legislation has some interesting points that any driver in California should be aware of.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
California law requires all riders to carry liability and proof of insurance, as well as a valid motorcycle license to operate their vehicles legally. Minimum insurance coverage limits usually includes:
- $15,000 for bodily injury per accident or death to one person.
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death to more than one person.
- $5,000 for property damage per accident.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
In addition to liability coverage insurance, California law requires insurers to offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage for bodily injury per accident. UM coverage can help protect you and get medical treatment if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Penalties for Riding Without Insurance
Riding a motorcycle without minimum coverage in California can result in penalties, fines, and potential license suspension. Law enforcement may also impound the involved motorcycle.
Comparative Fault Law
California follows a comparative fault system, which means that if you’re involved in an accident and found partially at fault, you can still seek compensation for your damages. However, your recovery may be reduced by your percentage of fault or your driving record.
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you may still be able to recover damages through your own insurance policy, including UM coverage, so always be aware of your insurance details so you can keep yourself covered.
California also has laws regarding hit-and-run accidents. If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident with a motorcycle, and need emergency medical treatment, you may be eligible for compensation through the California Victim Compensation Board (CalVCB).
Remember that legal scenarios related to this can be intricate. Your situation might be unique, so if you find yourself involved in a personal injury or motorcycle accident in California, seek advice from an attorney with expertise in property damage coverage and motorcycle policy. Also, make sure your insurance is current and always adhere to pertinent laws and regulations.
Can I Sue a Driver Who Hit Me with No Insurance?
Establishing responsibilities after an uninsured vehicle accident in California can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
The difficulty often depends on the specific circumstances of the accident, whether you have the necessary evidence to support your claims, and other legal requirements. However, for the purposes of this article, let’s assume that someone riding a motorcycle without insurance was at fault.
What are the most likely scenarios you will encounter?
A. You are insured, but the motorcyclist isn’t
If the motorcyclist is at fault for the accident and does not have insurance in California, there are a couple of elements you need to consider to understand your legal standing:
- Your Own Insurance Coverage: If you have Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) in your insurance policy, it can help your bodily injury coverage. And, if you’ve selected Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD), it can help with the repairs to your vehicle. UM and UMPD are optional coverages in California, so it’s essential to verify if you have them on your policy. It is also a must to keep your insurance premiums up-to-date.
- Your Compensation: If the at-fault motorcycle owners don’t have insurance, you can pursue compensation directly from them. However, collecting money from an uninsured driver can be challenging, because they don’t tend to have many assets or additional coverage. So, it might not be financially viable to pursue legal action if the individual is unlikely to pay.
- Potential Legal Consequences for the Motorcyclist: Due to the motorcycle insurance laws in California, all motorcycle drivers are required to have liability insurance. If the motorcyclist is found driving without insurance, they could face penalties, including fines and potential license suspension.
- Legal Action: If your damages are substantial and the motorcyclist has assets, you might consider pursuing a motorcycle accident lawsuit. Consult with a personal injury attorney to understand your options and the likelihood of recovering damages.
B. You are not insured, but the motorcyclist is
If you’re not at fault in an accident at a public road in California, but you’re uninsured, while the motorcyclist is, the situation changes a bit. Here’s a quick breakdown:
Since you’re not at fault and the motorcyclist is insured, their liability and UM insurance should cover damages to your vehicle and any bodily injuries you sustained, up to the limits of their policy.
California’s Prop 213
Also known as the “Limitations on Recovery to Felons, Uninsured Motorists, and Drunk Drivers Act“, this is a California initiative passed by voters in 1996. It primarily focused on limiting the ability of certain individuals to recover non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits resulting from vehicle accidents with an uninsured party. The key provisions of Proposition 213 include:
- Limitation on Recovery: Individuals injured while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while committing a felony, or while driving without insurance, were generally barred from recovering non-economic damages in personal injury lawsuits. Non-economic damages typically include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-monetary losses.
- Exception for Innocent Passengers: Proposition 213 did include an exception for innocent passengers who were injured in accidents involving drunk drivers or uninsured motorists. Innocent passengers could still seek non-economic damages even if the driver was at fault.
While Proposition 213 limits non-economic damages for certain individuals in specific circumstances, it did not affect the ability to recover economic damages, such as medical expenses and property damage, in vehicle accident cases. Some key points:
- Exceptions: If the at-fault party was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and is convicted of DUI in relation to the accident, then Prop 213’s limitations might not apply, and the uninsured party might be able to recover non-economic damages, which is why you need a lawyer ASAP.
- Motorcycles: A motorcycle insurance policy is always required, same as cars. There’s a lot of misinformation around the need for insurance carriers if you are not driving a car, but California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is very clear about the obligatory nature of motorcycle insurance coverage.
C. If I hit a motorcyclist and I don’t have insurance
If you hit a motorcyclist with your car in California’s public roadways and you don’t have insurance, the situation can be quite serious for you, both legally and financially:
- Financial Responsibility: Regardless of whether you believe you’re at fault, if it’s determined that you are, you’re personally responsible for any damages to the motorcyclist and their property. Without auto insurance, this means that you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for the motorcyclist’s medical bills, bike repairs, lost wages, and potentially other costs.
- Legal Consequences: In California, riding a motorcycle without insurance is illegal. If you’re involved in an accident while uninsured, you can face fines, impounding of your vehicle, suspension of your driver’s license, and potential civil lawsuits from the motorcyclist or their insurance company.
- Potential Lawsuit: If the motorcyclist’s damages are substantial, they (or their insurance company) may file a lawsuit against you to recover the costs. If they win the suit, this can result in wage garnishments, liens on your property, or other collection actions.
- California’s Compulsory Financial Responsibility Law: Under this law, if you’re at fault in an accident and can’t pay for the damages, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to four years. To get your license back, you’ll typically need to comply with minimum insurance requirements and maintain them for three years, providing the DMV with proof in the form of an SR-22 form from your insurer.
- Seek Legal Counsel: If the motorcyclist or their insurance company is seeking damages or if there’s a potential lawsuit, it’s essential to consult with an attorney. They can advise you on the best course of action and help navigate the legal process.
Get All The Legal Help You Need
Were you involved in a motorcycle accident in California due to careless drivers? Are you feeling alone and with a lack of protection? Have a lawyer well-versed in motorcycle accident cases on your side. At Motorcyclist Attorney, our team of personal injury lawyers specializes in addressing motorcycle crash cases and injuries, ensuring you get the compensation you’re entitled to.
Remember: Our services don’t cost a cent until we win your case. Injury-related expenses are often very extensive, and all medical fees, loss of income, hospital bills and other costs add up quickly. Our motorcycle accident lawyers want to relieve you of the burden as much as we can, which is why we operate on a contingency fee basis. This means that if we do not win or settle on your behalf, you will not owe our law firm anything.
So, while some law firms shy away from collision and motorcycle safety cases, we tackle them head-on with a focus on victory. Don’t let vehicle insurance companies scare you and secure top-tier legal support today. Call us at (844) 284-9437. Every second counts!