As everyone knows, Barry P. Goldberg is a foremost authority on all things California Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Law. That includes UM/UIM arbitration and procedure. Most California drivers (and fellow personal injury lawyers) are unaware that California’s Financial Responsibility Law has been amended to raise State required liability limits for the first time in 50 years! This will have major implications for uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. Barry P. Goldberg recently authored a comprehensive analysis of the law, history and effects in the San Fernando Valley Bar Association’s legal publication “The Valley Lawyer.” In fact, the article was the “centerfold” feature and was used to provide a written compliance with California’s Minimum Continuing Legal Educational requirements for California lawyers.
The title of the article is “California Car Culture: Auto Liability and Driving Responsibly.” The article provides some interesting context for California’s Financial Responsibility Law. For instance, most people do not realize that California’s “Uninsured Motorist” Law pre-dated the Financial Responsibility Law. Ironically, the California Legislature called it a “tragic emergency” that nearly 4% of California drivers were uninsured, causing millions in unrecoverable dollars and carnage and death. In the article, Mr. Goldberg points out that today there are approximately 16% uninsured drivers (in excess of 2 million), but no one seems to be calling it a “tragic emergency.”
Even more significant than uninsured drivers are that the largest share of insured drivers carry the current State minimum policy of 15/30/5. These minimums were established in 1974 and were never raised with the cost of living. In 1974, a new car was about $3500. In 2023, the average cost of a new car exceeds $40,000! The result for California drivers is that most significant vehicle accidents do not have enough liability coverage to satisfy the claim. Therefore, millions of Californians “eat” the uninsured costs of devastating accidents, including the property damage.
Finally, the Legislature passed a law (pretty quietly) raising the state minimum to 30/60/20 which was signed into law by Governor Newsome. It goes into effect January 1, 2025. As Mr. Goldberg explains in his article, we expect “underinsured” motorist claims to go down. However, we expect “uninsured” motorist claims to rise dramatically. This is because the costs of the new minimum policy will rise and drivers will struggle to afford the new policies. Mr. Goldberg advises California drivers to by Uninsured Motorist coverage —-and plenty of it!
To read Barry Goldberg’s analysis and full article, simply click here and go!