Other than your home, your vehicle may be your single most expensive personal possession. Teenagers and young adults often work their first jobs for many months to be able to afford even old, mediocre vehicles. Professionals who need to present a polished image to the public will typically feel compelled to drive newer and therefore much more expensive motor vehicles.
Whether you have had the same vehicle for a decade and have maintained it in excellent condition or you have a relatively new vehicle, a car crash can put you in a situation where you need to temporarily drive another vehicle and either replace or repair your vehicle.
Unfortunately, you may discover that the insurance coverage available from the other driver isn’t nearly enough to fix your vehicle or purchase a replacement vehicle.
California doesn’t require much property damage coverage
The mandatory insurance required for someone to register a vehicle and legally drive in California is solo that it might only cover the cost to repair your bumper and windshields. Drivers in California can get away with having just $5,000 of property damage coverage. $5,000 won’t make much of an impact when you have to buy a completely new vehicle or require body work on an import.
In some scenarios, the driver who caused the crash may have invested in extra coverage, or you may have additional protection on your own policy. If neither of those circumstances applies, then you may be left with a massive shortfall and thousands of dollars in vehicle expenses that you need to somehow cover.
Can you take the other driver to court?
When someone faces massive expenses from a car crash and won’t have enough insurance, a civil lawsuit may seem like a reasonable means of securing compensation. Provided that you have provable financial losses and that you can show the other driver broke traffic laws or drove in an obviously negligent manner, you could potentially take them to court and ask for compensation for the rest of your vehicle repair or replacement cost.
Learning a bit about how car insurance works in California can help you tweak your own policy for better protection or figure out what steps to take after a car crash.