Besides Virginia and New Hampshire, car insurance is required in every U.S. state. If you get into a car accident without insurance, the consequences can be severe. Exactly what happens will depend on several factors, including who was at fault and how serious the accident was.
Below, we’ll cover what happens in common scenarios where drivers get into an accident and don’t have insurance.
What Are the Penalties for Driving Without Insurance?
In most states, you can get in trouble simply for driving without auto insurance coverage—even if you don’t have an accident. You must carry the minimum coverage requirements for your state.
In Georgia, the minimum limits for auto insurance are bodily injury liability of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per occurrence as well as property damage liability of $25,000 per occurrence. You will need to check with the insurance laws of your state, as they vary widely across the country.
If you are caught driving without insurance, you can face:
- Jail time
- A suspended or revoked license
The penalties for driving without insurance vary by state and increase with each offense.
Keep in mind that these penalties apply even without a car accident. If you get into a car accident without insurance, the consequences may worsen.
What if You’re at Fault for a Car Accident Without Insurance?
Besides the penalties for driving without insurance, if you are at fault for a car crash that causes injuries, you may also be responsible for the costs. This is the case if you live in a state like Georgia where the at-fault party is liable for the damages (GA Code § 51-12-4). The other driver also has the option to sue you for the damages.
Many uninsured drivers do not have the money to pay for the costs of a car accident. If you aren’t able to pay the injured driver for their damages, you may be required to pay them through other methods, like garnished wages.
If you live in a no-fault state, the injured driver would get compensation from their own insurance company—even if you were at fault. You would only owe them money if their insurance did not cover the full extent of damages.
What if the Other Driver Is at Fault?
If you live in a fault state and the other driver caused your accident, you would not hold legal responsibility for the costs. You should still be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance for damages. However, there may be a limit on how much you can recover since you don’t have your own insurance.
Regardless, you will still face penalties in your state for driving without insurance.
What if I Live in a State That Does Not Require Car Insurance?
Even if you live in a state where car insurance is optional, you are still responsible for any injuries or damage you caused. The other driver can also still sue you for damages. If the accident is serious enough, you may be required to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which means you could face penalties like fines or a suspended license.
In Virginia, you must also pay $500 to the DMV to drive without insurance.
What Should I Do if the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance?
If the other driver is the person without auto insurance, it’s considered an uninsured motorist accident.
If you live in a fault state and get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you might worry there’s no hope of recovering money for your damages. However, you still have options.
Steps to Take After an Accident
After a car accident with an uninsured driver, you should:
- Call the police to report the accident
- Ask the other driver for their name, license number (if they have a license), and contact information
- Take pictures of their license plate and vehicle. Also, note their physical appearance
- Talk to witnesses, ask what they saw, and get their contact information
- Call a car accident lawyer as soon as possible
It’s best to document the situation as much as you can. The driver may not want to report the accident because they know they will be penalized. However, you should still contact the police. If you do not report the accident, there is little proof you can use to seek damages from the driver. Protect your rights first, and call an experienced attorney.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Each state has different laws about uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. In Georgia, it is optional but highly recommended. Most drivers have it, even if they don’t know they do. This coverage is meant to compensate you after an accident with an uninsured driver.
Contact your insurance carrier if you aren’t sure what coverage you hold. Hopefully, your UM/UIM insurance covers most of your damages. If it doesn’t, you can sue the other driver. A car accident lawyer can help you decide on the best course of action.
Have Questions About Your Car Accident?
The legal details of a car accident can get complicated quickly. It’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer to make sure you achieve the best outcome. At John Foy & Associates, we can help if you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault.
We understand how complex a car accident without insurance can be. If you’re not sure where to turn first, call us for a FREE consultation. We’ve been helping injured drivers recover the money they deserve for more than 20 years. Plus, we don’t get paid unless we win you money. To get started with your free consultation, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.