Car accidents can be terrifying ordeals, but when you’re in an uninsured car accident, you may wonder if you have any legal recourse. Caputo & Van Der Walde is a trusted law firm that specializes in personal injury cases, including car accidents.
In this article, you’ll learn what to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance and how to handle the situation when the other driver is uninsured. Read on to find out what to do in situations involving uninsured car accidents and how Caputo & Van Der Walde can help in these legal matters.
The Importance of Having Car Insurance
Every California driver is legally required to have the bare minimum of car insurance coverage. When you’re in a car accident without insurance, you can wind up in hot water with the state.
Minimum auto insurance coverage includes $15,000 for injury or death to one person; $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person; and $5,000 for property damage. In January 2025, those minimum numbers will go up, but for now, this is what you must have to be insured in California.
Insurance coverage protects you in the event of a crash. While California follows an at-fault insurance model, if you caused an accident or shared some fault, insurance would pay the damages rather than forcing you to pay out of pocket. Likewise, if another driver caused the accident, their insurance coverage would take care of the damages caused by your personal injury.
The Legal Implications of Driving Without Car Insurance in California
The state of California takes driving without car insurance very seriously by imposing fines, impounding vehicles, and suspending licenses and registrations. If you get into an uninsured car accident, you could have your license suspended for up to four years even if you were not at fault.
Another issue with an uninsured car accident is that you may be sued by the other driver. It is important to note that California practices a “no pay, no play” rule that forbids drivers without auto insurance from pursuing non-economic damages such as mental anguish after an accident, even when the other driver caused the crash.
Many people forget to make a payment or renew their insurance coverage. It can be a costly endeavor in California as you may be subject to a premium increase upon renewal if you are at least 51% at fault in an accident.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident with No Insurance
The first steps you need to take after a no insurance car accident will depend on who is at fault. If you are not at fault, then the other driver’s insurance company is liable for paying your damages. However, if you are not insured, it is wise to speak with a car accident attorney immediately to protect your rights.
When you are the one at fault and you do not have car insurance, you will be held liable for the damages. The other driver can file a claim with their insurance company, but if they only have the minimum coverage, it may not be enough. This will open up the potential for them to file a lawsuit against you. Things can quickly get complicated when you’re in a situation like this, which is another reason to get legal representation.
Regardless of who is at fault, the steps you take next can ensure your legal rights are protected.
Report the Accident and Get Medical Attention
The first step anyone should ever take after an accident, even when they don’t have insurance, is to check on everyone involved. It is best to call 911 to report the accident and summon emergency medical services to treat anyone with injuries.
You should take quick stock of your injuries, if any, but you should never assume you are fine if you don’t have any visible injuries. There are many injuries that don’t present visible symptoms in the moments after a crash. The sooner you get medical treatment, the better you will be because you will prevent complications. You will also have a valuable piece of evidence in the form of medical records to back up your injury claims.
Remain on the Scene
In an uninsured car accident, it may be tempting to leave the scene but that would be a foolish move. Leaving the scene of a crash in California has serious consequences that range from misdemeanor charges for accidents with only property damage to felony charges if someone is hurt or killed.
You should make sure you exchange contact information with the other driver. Drivers without any insurance should also take this step, but they do not need to explain anything further.
Avoid Admissions of Guilt
When you’re in a car accident without insurance, you may feel compelled to apologize. Often, those in these situations may say they are sorry even if they were not at fault. Let the accident investigators and reconstructionists determine who caused the crash.
Photos and videos of the accident scene may be helpful in your uninsured car accident. If anyone saw what happened, be sure to get their contact information and a statement. Even if you were driving without insurance, this does not automatically make you the liable party in an accident.
Protect Your Legal Rights
After an uninsured car accident, it is imperative that you work with an attorney. Since the state follows an at-fault insurance model, you may be blamed for the crash. Additionally, you may be hit with the fallout of not having car insurance.
Some drivers don’t realize that their coverage needs to be renewed and wind up driving without insurance coverage. Others are struggling to make ends meet and are behind on payments. No matter what kind of scenario you face, a personal injury lawyer can stand up for your legal rights.
Contact the law firm of Caputo & Van Der Walde to get the legal advice and assistance you need after an uninsured car accident.