What Happens If You Get in a Car Accident Without Insurance?
Updated: Feb 23
Being in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. However, it may be even worse for those involved in an accident and do not have car insurance. Driving a motor vehicle without car insurance is never a good idea, but victims may be wondering what their options are once the damage is done.
Those who believe that motor vehicle insurance is an unnecessary expense may be in for a big surprise when an accident occurs.
Contacting the best motor vehicle accident attorney in Nashville TN from The Keating Firm LTD may be the best chance drivers have of claiming any compensation when they find themselves in a car accident without insurance. Book a free consultation with us today for legal advice, and we can help drivers make the most out of the situation.
Here is what occurs if an uninsured driver causes a car accident and some recommendations for finding car insurance.
Are Drivers Allowed to Drive Without Car Insurance?
With the exception of Virginia and New Hampshire, driving without vehicle insurance is prohibited in practically every state. Traveling without car insurance carries severe consequences, especially when involved in a car crash.
Uninsured drivers may not be able to cover the damages to their car if they are involved in an accident and are uninsured. Additionally, they may not be able to retrieve compensation for any damages other than their medical bills if they are injured during the incident.
Even though most drivers do have liability insurance that covers physical injuries to other drivers, it does not pay the expenses of the other person's pain and suffering. As a result, the amount of compensation that drivers can obtain is limited.
Those who do not have auto insurance may not be able to cover all the expenses they may face due to an accident. The truth is that vehicle insurance is a worthwhile investment, even in states where it is not a legal requirement because of the financial consequences.
Car Insurance Versus Liability Insurance
While liability coverage and car insurance may sound like the same thing, they are inherently different.
Liability Car Insurance
When a driver causes a motor vehicle crash and the other vehicle is damaged, or someone is wounded, the liability insurance pays for the repair to the vehicle and the medical bills for any injured persons. The greater the insurance coverage for liabilities a person has, the less likely they are to have to pay cash for these expenses.
Full-coverage Auto Insurance
Although full coverage auto insurance provides greater coverage than liability cover, that might not protect drivers against all damages resulting from a car crash. Comprehensive car insurance includes liability cover as well as accident and comprehensive coverage.
Collision insurance often pays for any damage to the driver's vehicle that occurs while they are driving. If they are at fault for a car accident, liability insurance covers only the damage to the other driver's vehicle.
This collision coverage pays for any damage caused by colliding with another vehicle, which includes hitting a barrier such as a wall or a tree or driving off the highway. Hence, it is best to obtain full coverage insurance rather than just liability coverage.
What Is a No-fault State?
In no-fault states, all drivers are obligated to cover their costs with their car insurance. Several states use this technique to avoid bringing cases to court that aren't necessary. Drivers are required to pay their expenditures or claim damages from their own insurance company if they are wounded in a car crash, irrespective of who is to blame.
Repairing the car and paying for a hospital stay can be incredibly expensive if without insurance. Even if a driver is not being held responsible for the other driver's damages, they must still pay a great deal of money out of their pocket.
However, no-fault states do not excuse drivers who are driving without car insurance, and they can face further fines for being found to have driven without auto insurance coverage.
Why Auto Insurance Is Essential
In some states, car insurance is a must, and those who are found driving without auto insurance can face severe consequences such as fines, the suspension of their license, jail time, or having their license revoked. Additionally, uninsured drivers often have a much harder time getting affordable coverage when looking for an insurance policy.
Even if the driver acquires car insurance the day after the accident, the accident is not covered. Here are the consequences drivers face if they cause an accident without car insurance and are involved in an accident that was not their fault. This applies whether the uninsured driver was at fault or not in the accident.
Causing an Accident Without Insurance
If a driver causes a car accident and does not have auto insurance, they are responsible for paying all damages to the other driver's car. It isn't just the repair of the other car that needs to be worried about either. Negligent drivers can also face personal injury lawsuits from the owner of the damaged vehicle, or even a passenger of the car that was hit, which can cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In cases where the uninsured driver does not have enough cash to pay for the other driver for the damages to their car and the injuries they caused, the other driver can obtain these costs by taking a portion of the negligent driver's salary or wages.
This would result in paying a lot more than the cost of car insurance each month, as this amount can be very high depending on how badly the other driver's car was damaged and what injuries they faced. The cost doesn't stop there, either. There is still the cost of repairing their car, which uninsured drivers must bear on their own if they do not have car insurance.
However, bearing the brunt of the cost depends on where the accident occurs in the United States. 12 states in the US are known as no-fault car insurance states, which means that drivers are required to claim damages from their own insurance provider for vehicle damage and bodily injuries, regardless of which driver was at fault in the accident.
Those who cause a car accident while driving without car insurance in one of those 12 states are not liable for damages unless the damages exceed a specified amount. This may not prevent any punishment for driving without insurance.
The Costs At-fault Drivers Are Responsible For
Here is a summary of the potential costs at-fault drivers can expect when they are in a car accident without insurance:
The cost of repairing both vehicles, as well as any other property damaged during the collision
All medical expenses for all persons involved
At-fault drivers may incur the expense of the other driver's legal fees if they take legal action against them
The cost of having a vehicle released from an impound
Fines that the state may issue for driving not being a licensed insurance producer resident
More expensive car insurance after the accident
Being In a Car Accident That Was Someone Else's Fault
In the event that someone else causes an accident, things may look a bit better because it is usually the negligent driver or the driver who caused the accident that claims financial responsibility for the damages when a car accident occurs. This kind of accident is referred to as an uninsured motorist accident.
However, victims who were driving without car insurance may be limited in the amount of money they can recover, depending on the laws in play in that state. Additionally, they can still face penalties such as license suspension or fines for driving without auto insurance.
The Costs Not-at-fault Drivers Are Responsible For
Even if an accident was not their fault, uninsured drivers are still liable for the following costs:
The repair of their vehicle or other property that was damaged in an accident where there was no other driver involved (for example, if a tree fell on the car)
Releasing a car from an impound
Fines for not having auto insurance
How to Get An Auto Insurance Policy
Having insurance is, without a doubt, vital. It isn't just crucial for obeying state laws but is also vital because the results of being in a car accident without insurance can be devastating financially. Here are a few tips to help drivers find the right insurance before they find themselves in this predicament.
1. Know the Law
The minimum coverage for injuries and the damage to property required by each state differs. Furthermore, the more comprehensive the insurance coverage, the lower the chances a driver may have to cover any costs from their own pocket. Those worried about prospective crashes are advised to get the most feasible, yet comprehensive plan and not just stick to the minimum requirement.
Other types of car insurance, including underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, are required in some areas. These types of insurance safeguard drivers who are involved in crashes with a driver who does not have insurance. Personal injury protection is generally required in no-fault states. This form of insurance is typically used to cover any of the driver's medical expenses.
2. Shop Around
It isn't a wise decision to take the first insurance that is offered. One insurance company may offer a more comprehensive package deal than another, so it is best to shop around before deciding on an auto insurance policy.
First-time insurance buyers may qualify for discounts on an applicable insurance policy, so be sure to be forthcoming when getting quotations from insurance companies.
3. Save Money by Practicing Safe Driving
Insurance companies often offer better rates to drivers with a good driving track record. Those who have not driven recklessly or negligently qualify for cheaper insurance, so drivers who practice safe driving have everything to gain from safe and responsible driving.
4. Work on a Good Credit Score
This may come as a surprise, but drivers with a good credit score qualify for better rates on their insurance. Insurance carriers often perform credit checks on potential clients before making them an offer on an insurance plan. A driver's credit score is often an indicator of how much of a risk-taker they are and offer those with better credit ratings better prices on their insurance.
The Options Drivers Have After a Collision
Regardless of who is to blame in a car crash, all may not be lost. Below are some of the options drivers have when they find themselves in an accident without insurance or in a predicament where the other driver is uninsured.
Uninsured Drivers Who Were in an Accident That Was Not Their Fault
Being involved in an accident that was not the uninsured driver's fault puts the responsibility for damages on the shoulders of the other driver. Their insurance often covers the damages to the vehicle, and the uninsured driver can submit a third-party claim with that person's insurance carrier, and they handle the settlement.
Being Hit by a Driver Who Does Not Have Insurance
Motorists whom uninsured drivers hit can submit a claim under their underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage if they have auto insurance.
If the driver is hit by somebody who doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough cash to cover all the damages, their underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage covers their medical bills and car repairs. Drivers can file a claim for their cars to be fixed following a collision, irrespective of its fault.
Options for Drivers Who Were Negligent and Uninsured
Remember that other insurance solutions may be applicable in this situation. Health insurance, for example, can be used to cover any medical expenditure if a driver is injured in an accident. Alternatively, if the crash resulted from a third party's activities, such as a problem with the mechanical parts of the vehicle, this third party (the manufacturer) may be held accountable.
If the damages are minor, drivers can avoid depending on insurance companies entirely by simply offering the other motorist a cash settlement to repair their vehicle.
Contact The Keating Firm LTD
An experienced personal injury attorney can assist those who have been in a car accident to gather the facts necessary to show that the other driver was uninsured when the collision occurred.
Keep in mind that an attorney can also ensure that the driver's rights are protected if the other motorist claims responsibility for the collision. Uninsured drivers are advised to seek the assistance of an attorney to avoid being liable for costs that are not their responsibility.
At The Keating Firm, we pride ourselves on maintaining an excellent attorney-client relationship with every client who approaches us for assistance, and our experienced attorneys can provide trustworthy advice. Contact us today for a free case evaluation!