What Happens If Someone Sues You After a Car Accident With No Insurance?
If you were involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist, that driver can still sue you even if they were not carrying insurance. However, in California they can only recover economic losses, not those considered non-economic.
Although the uninsured driver may sue an at-fault driver, they are also subject to penalties for driving without insurance. This may include loss of their driver’s license for several years, and penalties and fines totaling $450 or more for a first offense. Subsequent offenses are more costly.
The uninsured driver’s vehicle is also subject to impoundment and towing. They cannot retrieve it without paying the hefty fees associated with towing and daily storage rates.
Not only will your insurance company report the fact that the other driver is uninsured to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but any police report from the accident scene will also record that fact.
A seasoned Southern California car accident lawyer at Ellis Injury Law can protect your rights and negotiate with your insurance company.
Minimum auto insurance requirements
Minimum liability insurance requirements for automobiles in California are currently $15,000 for death or injury to one person, $30,000 for death or injury to two people, and $5,000 in property damage.
Drivers do have another option, and that is self-insuring with the DMV by showing evidence of a $35,000 in cash deposit. Relatively few motorists go the self-insurance route.
Unfortunately, more than 15 percent of California drivers are uninsured. Statistically, that means one out of every six cars on the road are driven by uninsured motorists. The odds of getting into a collision with such a motorist are quite high.
A tort state
When it comes to auto insurance, California is a tort state. That means the injured parties must file an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. That is what the uninsured driver will do with your insurance company if you were at fault.
Much depends on whether you were actually at fault or the percentage of fault for which you were responsible. If there is a question as to which driver was at fault, your attorney can provide evidence showing you were not primarily to blame for the accident.
That is why documenting the accident while on the scene is crucial. If possible, take photos or videos of the scene, and get the contact number of any witnesses. You must also exchange contact information with the other driver, which is generally when you learn the other driver is not insured.
Economic vs. non-economic losses
Think of economic and non-economic losses in terms of objective vs. subjective losses. Calculating economic losses is straightforward. These are the injured person’s medical expenses, lost wages, verifiable out-of-pocket expenses, and the cost of repairs to the vehicle. Non-economic losses include amounts less easily quantified, such as pain and suffering or emotional anguish.
In a serious accident, non-economic losses can make up a significant portion of any damages awarded. However, that is not a consideration if the person suing you was uninsured at the time of the crash.
Car accident attorneys know there is a caveat: If the insured party was convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, then it is possible for the uninsured injured person to receive non-economic damages.
Uninsured motorist coverage
Some states require drivers to purchase uninsured motorist coverage. California is not one of them, but many drivers opt for this important coverage. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, it can help if an uninsured motorist sues you for their injuries. However, this type of coverage primarily serves to protect your property and pay your expenses if hit by an uninsured motorist.
Contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer
If you are being sued by an uninsured motorist with whom you were involved in a collision, contact the experienced Los Angeles car accident attorneys at Ellis Injury Law right away. Just fill out our online contact form or call or text us 24/7 to schedule a free consultation.
After evaluating your case, we will advise you of your options. We have represented thousands of car accident clients over the past quarter-century and look forward to hearing from you, as well.