Clients sometimes ask our Jacksonville auto accident attorney what they should do if they were in a vehicular accident but do not have car insurance. Since each state establishes the laws related to car insurance, the consequences will vary, depending on where you live. However, driving without car insurance usually means serious penalties in most states, especially if you are in a car accident. States fall under two categories when dealing with insurance: no-fault insurance states and tort states.
No-Fault Insurance States
About a dozen states have implemented a “no-fault” car insurance system, which means that anyone injured in an accident will need to seek reimbursement from their personal insurance carrier and not from the other driver’s insurer. The injured party can only file a lawsuit under a few conditions. While you are still legally required to have car insurance in a no-fault state, you will probably not be sued even if you are in an accident that’s your fault. However, if the injuries are serious or if they exceed a minimum threshold amount, such as $20,000, you could be held financially liable. If the other party decides to file a lawsuit against you, you will need to pay for any damages on your own. You might want to retain a Jacksonville auto accident attorney and pay for all related expenses unless you decide to represent yourself in court. However, with so much at stake, including your financial future, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer. You will not be able to tell the court that you cannot pay as ordered as the court will not accept your excuse. Instead, the court will enter a judgement against you if you are held liable for the other party’s damages.
States with Tort Insurance
Most states do not have no-fault insurance and instead use a tort system. In these states, a person can file a lawsuit against you for any damages after a car accident with injuries. Damages might include any or all of the following:
- Medical bills, including an ambulance, emergency room visit, hospital stay, doctor’s fees, prescriptions, therapy and more
- Lost earnings from time off work
- The loss of or damages to a vehicle or other property and
- Pain and suffering.
Our Jacksonville auto accident attorney can advise you if any other damages might be included in a lawsuit. In a tort state, you will be held personally liable if you do not have liability coverage, and you must pay all damages for the injured person out of your own pocket. The other motorist has the legal right to take the case to court, and if he or she wins, a judgement will be filed against you. The court can try to collect this money through various methods, including garnishing your wages.
Accidents Caused by Other Drivers
In some cases, state laws might limit what you can collect from another driver even if the accident was their fault if you do not have insurance and suffer injuries. These laws, called “no pay, no play,” state that you can seek compensation for verifiable medical expenses, but you cannot ask for reimbursement for pain and suffering. If you find yourself in this predicament, our Jacksonville auto accident attorney can provide you with further legal counsel on how you should proceed. States have determined that if you cannot provide full reimbursement to the other party, then you should not have the privilege of full compensation extended to you after a car accident. About 10 states have enacted these laws, and just a few of the “no pay, no play” states follow:
- New Jersey
Consequences for Failure to Maintain Car Insurance
Most states have laws that include criminal penalties if you have a vehicular accident and do not have car insurance. In addition, you will need to pay separate and expensive fees to the motor vehicle division in your state, and your car insurance rates will skyrocket when you do buy insurance. They could also suspend or even revoke your driver’s license for up to 12 months and could possibly suspend your car registration. Criminal penalties might include fines that could run upwards of thousands of dollars.
Call Our Jacksonville Auto Accident Attorney
If you were in a vehicular accident and do not have car insurance, contact our seasoned Jacksonville auto accident attorney from Canan Law at (904) 824-9402.Google+