California ranks 13th on the list of states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists. According to Insurance Information Institute, 14.7 percent of California drivers do not have the required minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage.
If you get into an accident caused by one of these drivers, you could find yourself in a very bad situation. You are supposed to be able to pursue a claim for compensation so a driver who hurt you pays for your losses. Insurance is the actual source of the payment in the majority of these car accident claims... so what happens if you want to make a case to get compensation and the driver who harmed you has no insurance coverage?
If you get into a car accident with a driver who is underinsured, you can make a claim against that driver and his or her insurance should be able to cover damages up to the policy limits. If the insurer accepts fault, or you prevail in court, the insurer will pay you damages up to the amount of coverage available. This isn't much, but at least it is something.
Of course, you still have uncompensated losses when your damages exceed policy limits. You can try to get the driver to pay for those losses out of his or her own personal financial assets. If you got a judgement against the driver, there are enforcement mechanisms to try to collect. You could go to court and get a lien on the driver's property, for example, or a court order to garnish wages and make the driver pay. Of course, these methods work only if the person has assets and income. If they don't, then the old adage is true: you cannot get blood from a stone... or in this case, money from someone who has none.
If the driver has no insurance, you will find yourself in a similar situation, but will be even worse off. Since there's no insurance at all, you'll be left trying to collect the whole amount of damages from the driver's personal assets. If they don't have the money to pay, you could be out of luck.
You do have one possible additional option to consider. You could try to get compensated by your own auto insurance. California does not require uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, but some drivers buy these kinds of coverage anyway. If you did, your insurer will stand in for the driver who was actually supposed to compensate you and you can get paid up to the limits of your policy for the losses that you endured in the crash. Uninsured motorist coverage can also pay your bills if you were hurt in a hit-and-run and the driver who harmed you is not able to be found.