Driving without car insurance is never a good idea. In fact, in most states it’s illegal.
Yet according to the Insurance Research Council, one in eight drivers is uninsured. So what happens if you get in a car accident without car insurance?
The answer to this question depends on three factors: where you live, who was at fault, and how much damage was caused. Let’s break down all the possible scenarios:
In states that require auto insurance
In states that require auto insurance, getting in an accident while uninsured can have severe consequences.
For one, you may get your driver’s license suspended. If it’s been suspended before, you may even get it revoked. You may also get your vehicle impounded (and need to pay a fee to get it back), pay stiff fines, and even face jail time. And that’s all just for driving uninsured.
If you caused any damage to other vehicles or property in the accident, you will be responsible for paying for their repair or replacement out of your own pocket. The same goes for any medical expenses others incur as a result of injuries you caused.
That said, twelve states in the US have “no-fault” laws, which means drivers are required to seek compensation from their own insurance first (up to a certain threshold) before they can get compensation from another party’s insurance.
However, even in no-fault states, other drivers may be able to sue you, in which case you’ll have additional legal fees to worry about.
Last of all, should you decide to get auto insurance after the fact, you will be facing higher rates now that you have an accident on your record.
In states that don’t require auto insurance
There are only two states that don’t require drivers to have auto insurance: Virginia and New Hampshire. Though you won’t be penalized for not having car insurance in these states, getting in a car accident can still have serious consequences.
If you are at fault for the accident, you are still liable for any damages and injuries you cause. Inability to pay may get your license suspended or revoked. That’s because even in states that don’t require auto insurance, you are expected to be able to pay for any liabilities (aka be self-insured).
If the accident is another driver’s fault, they will be responsible for any damage or injuries they cause. However, if their auto insurance doesn’t have sufficient coverage, you may be on the hook for paying the rest of any medical or car repair bills.
You could sue the other driver for damages. However, this will create extra legal fees that you will need to pay for as well.
The bottom line
No matter how you look at it, getting in a car accident without insurance is bad news. Living in a no-fault state or one that doesn’t require auto insurance can help your case a little, but it’s better to stay on the safe side and always have full liability coverage for the worst case scenario.
That said, if you already experienced an auto accident while uninsured, there’s still help. Consult an experienced car accident lawyer who can help improve your legal case. They may not be able to get rid of all your liabilities, but they can help minimize them so you pay as little as possible.
Choose a local attorney who knows the law where the accident occurred. That way, you can be sure you’re getting the best legal advice for your situation.