What to Expect When You’re in a Car Accident with No Insurance

May 6, 2024 @ 3:13 pm

Driving is a privilege. Each of us must earn the right to operate a vehicle, and that comes in two forms—licensing and insurance. To drive legally, you must hold both a valid driver’s license and proof of current insurance. 

While your license shows that you know the rules of the road and have the responsibility to follow them, insurance is there to protect drivers and their passengers in case something goes wrong. So, what happens when something does go wrong, but you don’t have that protection? What happens when you’re in a car accident with no insurance?

The Risks of Driving without Insurance

The laws that govern most motor vehicle operation, licensing and insurance are state laws. Having car insurance is so important that nearly all 50 states require that you maintain an active policy. The exceptions—Virginia and New Hampshire—aren’t really exceptions. They still mandate at least minimum coverage, but they may allow a driver to pay a $500 annual fee or to secure “proof of financial ability” in order to drive without insurance.

The common thread among all states is that if you drive without insurance or an official waiver, you may be subject to substantial fines, jail time and loss of your license. If you find yourself involved in a car accident with no insurance, you alone could be responsible for the damages that you cause to yourself as well as the damages to others and their property. 

As a result, you may face multiple lawsuits seeking compensation for damages and injuries. Even if you’re not at fault, you may still face both legal and financial consequences for driving without insurance.

No-Fault Versus Fault States

An important component in any accident is whether the state is a “fault state” or a “no-fault state.” In fault states, insurers evaluate the circumstances and evidence surrounding an accident and the degrees of fault of the parties involved. In cases where one party was clearly at fault, that party’s insurance will usually fully cover the property damages and medical bills for the other party up to a policy’s limits. In cases of partial fault, insurance pays according to the corresponding percentages of fault for the drivers involved.

In no-fault states, the at-fault driver’s insurance typically pays for damages to the other driver’s car and property. However, personal injuries are usually covered through the personal injury protection—PIP—each driver carries on their individual policy. Each driver’s insurance covers their respective injuries within the policy’s dollar limits. If injuries are severe, individuals may have the option of suing for compensation that exceeds a policy’s limits.

Some individuals may think that all policies address uninsured or underinsured motorists. They may think that if they cause an accident while driving uninsured, the other driver’s insurance policy will cover all damages and injuries. However, coverage depends on the details and levels of coverage that a particular driver decided to pay for within their policy as well as state laws. The victims of an uninsured driver may have no choice but to sue that uninsured driver.

What to Expect in Louisiana 

Louisiana Is a Fault State. 

Responsibilities following an accident correspond to the percentages of fault assigned.

In Louisiana, law mandates that drivers must carry at least 15/30/25 liability coverage for every vehicle that they own. According to the Louisiana Department of Insurance “Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance,” those limits provide payments of $15,000 for bodily injury to one person, $30,000 for bodily injury to more than one person in a single accident, and $25,000 coverage for damage to someone else’s vehicle or other property.

No Pay, No Play Statute

Louisiana not only mandates that drivers carry a minimum level of insurance but also penalizes them if they fail to comply through a “no pay, no play” statute. That statute removes the ability of an uninsured driver to recover the first $15,000 in bodily injury and the first $25,000 in property damages. This applies even if the uninsured driver is not at fault. In short, if you don’t pay for insurance, you cannot collect the minimum required liability insurance benefits from someone who did.

State Exceptions to No Pay, No Play 

While no pay, no play will apply to the majority of uninsured driver accidents, Louisiana recognizes five main exceptions. If any of these exceptions apply, the statute no longer applies:

  • The other driver is cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated and is convicted or pleads nolo contendere to the charge.
  • The other driver intentionally causes the accident. The other driver does something dangerous because of road rage and causes a collision, for example.
  • The other driver flees the scene of the accident.
  • The accident occurs as a part of the other driver committing a felony.
  • The other vehicle causing the accident is not being operated by a driver and “is not in violation of the provisions of Chapter 1 of this Title.”

Since uninsured drivers may have passengers, the statute does not apply to those passengers who have no ownership interest in the uninsured vehicle. Since the laws governing car insurance are state laws, Louisiana’s no pay, no play statute does not apply to out-of-state drivers. Interestingly, while no pay, no play applies to vehicles in operation, vehicles legally parked are exempt and would still be eligible for $25,000 in property damage.

In addition to preventing you from collecting thousands of dollars in possible compensation, driving without insurance can result in hefty fines, suspension of your driver’s license, and loss of your vehicle. Some cases may even merit jail time. 

Involved in an Accident without Insurance? Here Are the Steps to Take

People find themselves driving without insurance for any number of reasons. Your policy may have lapsed because you failed to pay your bill. Your premium may have become too costly to pay due to other accidents or traffic infractions. You may think that you’ll be careful and drive just this one time. You may feel it’s an emergency. You may even be counting on other drivers’ insurance.

If you do find yourself in a car accident with no insurance, you should follow these steps to ensure all evidence is gathered and all options are considered:

  • Call for emergency assistance, if needed.
  • Exchange information with the other driver—names, addresses, phone numbers, license plates and insurance information.
  • Document the scene with pictures, drawings and detailed accounts.
  • Contact the police so that you’ll have an official police report.
  • Seek medical attention to treat and document any injuries you may have.
  • Consult a vehicle accident attorney to explore your options or see if any exceptions to No Pay, No Play apply to you.

Get Started with MMRBH

While contacting a lawyer may be the last step in the series, it may be the most important one listed. If you have an accident while driving with no insurance, you will need legal guidance to ensure the best possible financial outcome.

If you need help, reach out to the car accident attorneys at Morrow, Morrow, Ryan, Bassett and Haik. Schedule your free consultation today by calling (800)725-8836, or contact us online.


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