Oakland Car Crash Highlights Need for Uninsured Motorist Coverage

policyLast night the driver of a stolen car caused a serious personal injury accident. The accident occurred at 60th and Camden Street in Oakland. The driver of a stolen Toyota slammed into the side of another vehicle driven by a mother who had her four daughters in the car. All four children were taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital. The driver of the stolen car fled the scene on foot.

Stolen cars are generally not covered by liability insurance. The reason for this is that only the named insured and persons whom the owner of the vehicle gives permission to drive the car are covered by the insurance. In this accident, since the car was stolen, the owner did not give the driver permission to use the car and therefore, there will be no insurance coverage for the negligence of this driver. However, the mother and her children will be covered for their personal injury damages under their own insurance plan if there is adequate uninsured motorist coverage on her vehicle.

Uninsured motorist protection will protect people who are hit by uninsured drivers, hit and run drivers, and stolen vehicles. As long as there is an actual contact between the uninsured vehicle and the insured vehicle the coverage will apply. In other words, it will not apply to a hit and run situation where someone is run off the road, but there is no actual contact between the fleeing driver and the insured.

The uninsured motorist will be able to recover against their own policies for all personal injury damages that they would have been able to recover against the uninsured hit and run driver, had that person had insurance. Therefore, a person who is injured in an auto accident by a hit and run driver can recover compensation for pain and suffering, for their medical bills, both past and those likely to occur in the future, and lost wages and loss of earning capacity. The claim is only limited by the amount of the uninsured motorist coverage purchased.

Uninsured motorist coverage is required by law in every policy of automobile insurance that is sold in the State of California ( Insurance Code Section 11580). However, the insurance can be waived, if the insured does not want the coverage and signs a written waiver. Some people make the mistake of waiving this coverage in an effort to lower their insurance premiums. I see this frequently with minimum coverage policies and insurance companies that write insurance for high risk drivers. However, this is always the wrong decision to make.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles reports that there are over 1.3 million uninsured drivers in the state. As auto insurance becomes more expensive, the number of uninsured drivers will only increase. Therefore, I strongly recommend that you carry uninsured motorist limits in an amount as high as your own liability limits. If you are unaware of what your limits are, you can refer to the declaration page of your automobile insurance liability policy.

As an Oakland uninsured motorist lawyer, I see in my daily practice of representing personal injury victims, the importance of having adequate uninsured motorist coverage. For more information on the do’s and don’ts of uninsured motorist claims, see my articles on uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist claims.


The Oakland Tribune, Driver of stolen Toyota broadsides car carrying mother, four daughters in East Oakland, March 17, 2011

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