When you’re in a car accident, your mind races with all the questions and concerns you have about what comes next. If you’re in an accident with no insurance, you might be feeling especially fearful. You are probably wondering what will happen since you have no insurance even though, legally, you should. While not having insurance definitely complicates things, it doesn’t necessarily mean that no help is available to you.
If you live in a tort state (as opposed to a no-fault state), such as California, the first step is to prove that someone else is liable, or responsible, for the accident. You must prove fault for the other person’s insurance to pay any damages.
Once fault has been established, you can make a claim or file a suit against that person even if you are an uninsured motorist. However, you do face some restrictions when it comes to recovery. Some states, including California, have “no pay, no play” laws that restrict the rights of uninsured drivers. You cannot recover non-economic losses, such as compensation for pain and suffering, disfigurement, etc. You are limited to recovery for economic losses, such as medical bills and lost wages. So, you can still file a claim, but you will not be eligible for as much compensation.
Keep in mind that even if you are not at fault, you are still subject to the penalties of driving without insurance. Fines for driving without insurance can run anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Often, uninsured motorists face suspension or revoking of their driver’s license, too.
If you are in a car accident with no insurance and it is decided that you are at fault or responsible for the accident, you likely have a bumpy road ahead. If the other driver or an injured passenger decides to bring a personal injury suit against you, you will be personally responsible to pay for the damages he or she is awarded. If the damages are more than you can afford to pay, it is possible that you will have your wages garnished.
The other driver may file an uninsured motorist claim with his own insurance. If that happens, that insurance company may try to recover from you what it paid to its policyholder through a subrogation case. You may not have to pay the full amount, but it is likely that you will end up paying at least something to the insurance company.
Though we always recommend complying with the law and carrying auto insurance, if you’ve been in an accident as an uninsured motorist, a lawyer may be able to help you—especially if you are not at fault. It is important to consider all the factors in your case before moving forward with a claim or suit. Contact us today for a free consultation.