After a car accident, drivers exchange insurance information. But if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, this can cause devastating consequences, and you could end up suffering more damages.
Fortunately, you aren’t alone. The Illinois uninsured driver car accident attorneys at CCAL are ready to guide you through all your legal options. Call us today in Chicago at (312) 300-2515 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.
What Happens If I Get in A Car Accident but I Don’t Have Insurance?
Some insurance covers are optional, such as insurance on valuable possession or life insurance. However, auto insurance is mandatory, especially if you’re driving a registered motor vehicle on state or federal roads. If you’re just driving around in your yard, that’s one thing, but when driving on public roads, you’re endangering the lives of others and the property of yourself and others, thus you need insurance coverage to protect that.
If a police officer stops you at a routine traffic stop and you have no insurance, you could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 in Illinois. Also, your registration and license could be suspended for up to three months until you pay the reinstatement fee and show proof of insurance. If this isn’t your first time driving without insurance, the penalties could be even stiffer, and if you let your insurance lapse, you could face higher insurance premiums. Here’s what happens if you have no car insurance or your insurance has expired at the time of an accident. Note this only applies to at-fault states, like Illinois, in a no-fault state the process is different.
What to Do Next: For Those Not At Fault
If you’re not at fault, and it was the other driver’s fault, you can make a third-party claim for any bodily injuries or car damages to your car, through the at-fault driver’s insurer.
In case of a car accident, you could face additional penalties for driving without insurance. In Illinois, if a car accident causes bodily injuries, deaths, or property damage that’s greater than $1,500; you must file a crash report. In these cases, police officers must be involved and you'll likely face penalties for not having insurance coverage. However, both parties can agree to settle the matter without creating a crash report or involving an insurance company. With a fender bender incident, this is a great option if you’re driving without insurance.
If a crash report must be filed, you may face the uninsured motorist fine of up to $1,000 for first or second offenses. Also, your license and registration could be suspended. And you may have to pay other additional fees because of the accident, including the repairs your vehicle may require. If this is your third time driving uninsured or you have caused bodily injuries to another person involved in the accident, you’ll be fined $2,500 and a four-month license and registration suspension, and a $100 reinstatement fee.
When facing penalties for driving without insurance coverage, whether you’re involved in an accident, an attorney can help you reduce the fines if you can show proof of insurance coverage as of the date of the court hearing and if you’ve never been charged with this offense before.
What to Do Next: For Those at Fault
If you and the other party believe you were at fault, the situation can get more complicated.
Here’s to do and what to expect:
- If you have no insurance, admit that you’re uninsured, don't hide the problem.
- If the other driver has insurance coverage that supports uninsured motorist (UIM) claims, probably they’ll go ahead and file this claim.
- The claim may take longer to be resolved, so expect months or even years of waiting.
- After the insurance company resolves the claim, they may start a procedure called subrogation, which entails suing you to regain the money they lost paying the cost of the accident.
During subrogation, you must provide tax returns and show proof of your financial assets by other means, such as through a financial affidavit. In the end, you’re likely to pay the accident damages, but unless you have the financial means, you’ll probably pay the total amount it cost the insurance company.
Uninsured Driver Statistics in Illinois and Nationally
Each state has laws requiring motorists to have insurance cover. But too many motorists ignore these laws and drive without insurance. If an uninsured driver causes an accident, the driver with insurance may have to use their uninsured motorist cover to recover damages for injuries. However, this may be a problem if the insured driver’s damages exceed the limits of the insurance policy. This can leave the insured driver with no recourse and unpaid bills from an accident that wasn’t their fault. A 2011 study released by the Insurance Research Council showed that the number of uninsured drivers is on the rise.
According to the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers in the U.S. is driving without insurance cover, which is about 14.2% of total drivers. In Illinois, the same report shows that 15% of drivers have no insurance cover, even though the state requires drivers to have liability insurance.
What If You Live in a No-Fault Insurance State
Only 12 states follow the “no-fault” car insurance system. In a no-fault state, if you’re injured in a car accident, you’re required to seek compensation from your car insurance coverage. Only at limited times can you step outside of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit.
Thus, if you live in a no-fault state and you have no insurance coverage, even if you’re at fault for the car accident, the other driver probably can’t name you as a defendant in a lawsuit and seek damages from you. This is possible only in limited circumstances: typically if the bodily injuries are deemed “significant” or “severe” under the state’s threshold definition. Or if the medical expenses exceed certain amounts, such as $20,000.
If a claim is filed against you, because you have no auto insurance coverage, you’ll likely pay any damages to the injured person from your pocket. Also, you’ll have to hire an attorney at your own expense, unless you want to represent yourself in court. Note that saying to the court “I can’t pay that amount” isn’t a defense in these lawsuits. If you’re found liable during the trial and the court orders you to pay the other driver’s losses, it’ll enter a judgment against you.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help!
Because the legal details of a car accident can become complicated quickly, it’s good to seek the help of a car accident lawyer to make sure you get a fair outcome. Here at CCAL, we can help if you were injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault. We know how complicated a car accident can get if you have no insurance coverage. We’ve been helping injured drivers recover the personal injury compensation they deserve for decades. Plus, you don’t have to pay us unless we win you money. Call us today at (312) 300-2515 or contact us online, to schedule a free consultation.