All drivers must have valid car insurance in the state of California. In addition, the law requires them to have proof of their liability insurance with them at all times when driving. Operating a motor vehicle without it is illegal and carries severe penalties.
Why do you need car insurance?
Auto liability insurance can protect other people (and you) from financial hardship should an accident occur. It pays for injuries that you cause to others when you’re responsible for a collision, including medical payments and repair costs.
What if you’re not at fault for the accident and you don’t have insurance?
If you didn’t cause the accident and don’t have insurance, you can get a ticket for driving without sufficient coverage. You could pay a fine of up to $500, depending on whether you have an arrest history for driving without insurance. Factor in other fees and penalties, and the total could be as high as $1,000.
Your license could also be suspended for up to four years, and you’ll need to file an SR-22 certificate. All these will cost a much higher premium than what you would have paid for an insurance policy in the first place.
As for damages, the other driver has to pay for the cost of damages if you don’t have insurance. You have the right to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance provider to cover your medical fees and vehicle repair expenses.
What if you were at fault for the accident and you don’t have insurance?
If you cause an accident and you don’t have insurance, there could be serious consequences. On top of all of the fines and penalties mentioned above, you’ll be liable for medical expenses and repair costs.
The other party can sue you in court rather than file a claim with your insurance provider. What’s more, you may be held responsible for additional damages that include lost income, pain and suffering, and future medical treatments. When this occurs, you’ll also have to hire a lawyer.
If you’re injured in an accident you caused, and you don’t have insurance, there may be no way for you to recover compensation for the injuries and financial losses you have suffered.
Steps to take if you’re in a car accident and you don’t have insurance
Don’t forget that your immediate concern after the crash is to see that everyone is safe until the police arrive.
- California has strict hit-and-run laws. Stay at the accident scene even if the accident wasn’t your fault and you don’t have insurance.
- Check yourself first for injuries before checking on your passengers and the other driver. Call 911 immediately if you or another person is injured.
- Give the other driver your name and current address. Likewise, ask for their name, address, and insurance information.
- It’s important to fight the impulse to apologize to the other driver. This may be seen as an admittance of guilt and could be used against you. From this point on, it’s up to the insurance company and the court to determine who is responsible for the accident.
Contact an Orange County car accident lawyer today
If you don’t have insurance and you’re involved in a car accident in California, whether it’s your fault or not, you should contact an experienced Orange County car accident lawyer immediately. A competent lawyer can considerably increase your chances of securing the financial recovery you’re entitled to.
Contact Barrios & Machado at (714) 515-9696 for an evaluation of your case and to schedule a free consultation.