All drivers in the state of California are required to have car insurance. Liability insurance pays for injuries that you cause to others when you cause a crash, and other types of insurance, such as medical payments coverage, collision coverage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage help to pay for injuries or damages that you sustain in a crash, sometimes regardless of fault. Insurance is very important – if you don’t have insurance and you cause an accident, you could be held personally liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damages to others, and if you are injured in an accident, there may be no way to recover compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.
If you are involved in an accident and you don’t have insurance, you are facing an uphill battle when it comes to recovering compensation for any injuries and damages you have suffered. However, recovering compensation isn’t always impossible, and there may be other avenues for seeking damages. Here’s what you need to know:
It’s Illegal to Drive Without Insurance
A question that we get at least once a month is, “What do I do if I was in an automobile accident and I was uninsured?” And, this is a very significant problem.
First of all, as mentioned above, it’s illegal to drive in California if you’re uninsured, and secondly, if the other person is at fault for the accident, your damages that you can recover are severely limited due to the fact that you’re uninsured.
California maintains a “No Pay, No Play” rule for drivers that are involved in accidents and are uninsured. This rule limits the amount of compensation that uninsured drivers can recover in a crash. For example, while you can seek economic damages from the other driver’s liability policy (assuming that the other driver caused the accident), which includes damages for your medical bills, you cannot seek damages for non-economic losses. This means that you cannot seek damages for things like pain, suffering, or loss of quality of life.
Of course, you may also face legal penalties for driving without insurance, including a possible license suspension and a hefty fine. However, these consequences often pale in comparison to the civil liability and large bills that you could face.
If You Were At Fault for the Accident without Insurance
If you were at fault for the crash and therefore cannot even recover damages for your medical bills from the other driver’s liability insurance, you may have even bigger financial woes if you have suffered injuries, or if you caused injury or property damage to other. Even if the other driver has uninsured motorist insurance, they still have the right to file a lawsuit directly against you for damages, which means that your personal assets and property could be at risk.
Are You Really Uninsured?
The other issue to look at is, are you really 100 percent sure you’re uninsured? And what I mean by that is even if you have no insurance, if you’re driving someone else’s car and they’ve allowed you to drive it and they have insurance, you are covered by that insurance.
In some cases, you may think that you are uninsured because you yourself do not maintain an auto insurance policy. However, insurance follows the car when the insurance policyholder gives another driver permission to use their vehicle. So if you are borrowing your friend’s car and you are in a crash, it is very likely that your friend’s automobile insurance can be used to pay for damages you cause.
Other Options for Recovering Compensation
Keep in mind that there may still be other insurance options yet. For example, if you carry health insurance, your health insurance can be used to pay for your medical bills once you pay your deductible. Or, if the accident occurred because of a third-party’s actions, such as a brake defect that caused the crash, this third party (in this case, the brake manufacturer) may be liable. If injuries and damages aren’t severe at all, you may even be able to simply offer the other driver a cash payment for auto repairs and mitigate the insurance system altogether.
You Need to Contact an Attorney
If you are involved in an accident in California and you are uninsured, whether you caused the accident or are a victim of it, California’s laws are tough against uninsured drivers, and you may have a difficult time recovering compensation. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after your accident, who can review your case free of charge and help you to determine whether or not there is any way that you can be compensated for your injuries, and avoid being held personally liable for injuries that you caused to others.
At the offices of GJEL Accident Attorneys, we thoroughly review all cases clients bring to us, and are more than happy to open investigations into accidents to determine fault. We explore all potential avenues of liability, and all sources of insurance that are potentially involved and could be used to pay a claim. We also negotiate with the other party to ensure that your rights are protected to the fullest extent possible.
There are occasionally exceptions to the issues discussed above, and I’m always happy to discuss those cases with you. However, as a general rule if you are uninsured you are probably going to have a hard time having a workable case. Call me today to schedule your free consultation.