Can Uninsured Drivers Hurt in Car Wrecks Get Settlements?


Lisa Allen

A reader asked this question: “I was in a car accident on Saturday. A car ran into me, but my insurance is not up to date. What can I do to get help? I was hurt, but I am uninsured.”

This is an unfortunate situation and an important question. The answer depends on two things: Who is found at fault for the wreck and the state where the collision happened.

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What Happens If I’m In A Car Accident and I’m Uninsured?

Driving without insurance isn’t advisable, but it doesn’t affect the question of fault. If you’re at fault and driving without insurance, then you may face a serious and substantial financial burden. This is true if you are injured and need medical care, lose wages, or your car’s damaged or totaled. It’s also true if the other driver or anyone in their car has injuries, or their car’s damaged or totaled. Driving while uninsured, unfortunately, can make you financially responsible for everyone’s injuries and property damage if you’re the one who caused the accident. Statistics show a minor crash can cost an uninsured motorist $10,000. In addition, an accident with non-disabling injuries and property damage can average $8,900.

But if the other driver’s at fault, recovering expenses for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage may still be possible. In fact, it all depends on where the accident happened. The answer to this question is very different if our uninsured reader lives in a no-fault state that imposes what some call “no pay, no play” policies. These states assert, through their regulations, that if you don’t carry insurance, you shouldn’t be able to collect from someone else’s insurance. And that remains true even when that other person caused the accident.

What Is an At-Fault State?

There are 12 no-fault states that require drivers hurt in auto accidents to use their own car insurance to cover bills:

Drivers can also opt out of a no-fault policy in Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

This means in a no-fault state, even if another driver caused your accident, you must rely on your own insurance to pay for lost wages, medical bills, or pain and suffering. There’s one exception: Even in no-fault states, the driver responsible for the accident is responsible for covering property damage.

If you’re in a no-fault state and police determine the other driver was responsible for the accident that totaled your car and caused you to miss work and spend time in the hospital, that driver (or their insurance company) is only responsible for your car repairs. The rest of the bills are your responsibility alone, since you don’t carry insurance that might otherwise cover those costs.

This also means that if you’re uninsured and not at fault, you may have to pay all your property damage costs. You would not, however, be responsible for lost wages or medical bills. This is because of that state’s no-fault status. All other states are at-fault states. In those states, the party responsible for an accident must pay for:

  • Property losses and car repairs
  • Lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Any other punitive damages

So, if this uninsured reader lives in an at-fault state and another driver caused the accident, an attorney could file a claim on the reader’s behalf to secure compensation.

Should I Talk to an Attorney About My Case?

Talking to an attorney can help you determine whether you have an auto accident claim. Why not sign up for a free phone call from a local attorney to discuss your case? It’s the fastest and easiest way to get free legal advice that applies to your specific accident.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online auto accident case evaluation now!

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Lisa Allen

Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.