Getting in an auto accident is stressful enough. You may not know when to call a personal injury lawyer or auto accident attorney, or what compensation your accident makes you eligible for. But one of the most stressful questions to ask can be what do you do after a car accident if you don’t have insurance?
The answer to that question relies largely on the state you live in, and in many states, you can incur hefty penalties if you drive without insurance, especially if you get in an accident.
If you live in one of the 12 no-fault insurance states, you’re required to to seek compensation from your own car insurance company if you’re injured in an accident. Car accident lawyers may be able to help you sue under very limited circumstances, but most of the time filing a lawsuit against the other driver won’t work. This means that if you get in an accident without insurance, the other driver probably won’t be able to sue you for compensation. If you are sued successfully, you’ll have to pay the injured person out of pocket or hire your own auto accident lawyer to defend you.
States that don’t follow no-fault insurance systems are called tort states. If you’re asking “what do you do after a car accident without insurance” in a tort state, the answer is very different. If you cause a car accident where another person is hurt, that person can hire a personal injury attorney and sue you for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Without an insurance policy, you’ll have to pay all these expenses out of pocket if you loose the case. If you can’t pay out of pocket, the injured party can use methods like garnishing your wages to get their compensation.
But what do you do after a car accident if the other driver was negligent, and not you? In many instances, there will be restrictions against what you can recover if you don’t have insurance, and you may not be eligible for all forms of compensation. On top of that, you could have to pay a fine for driving without insurance, and you could lose your license as well.
All things considered, it’s usually better to play it safe and get insurance before an accident occurs.