Can You File a Claim After a Car Accident if You’re an Uninsured Driver?
Okay, you find yourself in a tough predicament. You’ve been in a car accident, but you don’t have auto insurance. Maybe something happened that caused you to lose your policy. Maybe you had been planning to deal with it but kept forgetting or running out of time. But now you’re looking at damage to your car and possibly personal injury to boot. Can you file a claim in this situation?
There are likely other complicating factors, too. Assuming the other driver is at fault, their insurance company may insist they owe you nothing for your pain and suffering: Legally, you’re liable for the collision as you were driving sans insurance.
The police likely informed you that although you were not responsible for your accident, you’ll have to appear in court for an uninsured driver charge. The responding officer issued you a ticket and a monetary fine. It’s a lot of stress and it’s getting expensive — and it wasn’t even your fault?
How will you pay for car repairs and medical bills? Can you file a personal injury claim if you don’t have insurance? The good news is you still may have legal recourse to recoup your losses.
Uninsured Driver Accidents in the U.S. and Indiana
If you don’t have car insurance, you’re not alone. As of 2019, 12.6% of U.S. drivers (or 32 million people) did not have any vehicle insurance coverage. Indiana ranks 15th of U.S. states with uninsured drivers: 15.8% of Indiana drivers do not have any insurance.
Every year, 82% of the drivers who do not purchase car insurance feel they cannot afford to make required policy payments. Car insurance may feel like an exorbitant cost when you’re struggling to make ends meet. However, if you drive, legally you are required to hold a policy for your vehicle.
If you are pulled over or involved in a car accident with no insurance, you could face legal consequences. Uninsured or underinsured insurance coverage carried by insured drivers costs an annual average of $13 billion.
What is Uninsured Motorist Insurance?
Twenty U.S. states require insured drivers to carry under-insured or uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage, known as UMBI (Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury) protects drivers who are not at fault in an accident with an uninsured driver. However, most policies that include UMBI insurance will extend some coverage for at-fault policy holders who collide with uninsured motorists.
UMBI insurance coverage extends to funeral expenses, lost wages, medical bills, and lost wages.
Indiana law requires drivers to purchase car insurance, including uninsured driver insurance: This means insured drivers must have policies for at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage, $25,000 in property damage coverage, and $50,000 in bodily injury as a result of accidents with under-insured drivers.
When insured drivers include both Bodily Injury Liability (also known as BI) and Property Damage Liability (or PD) on their car insurance policies, they protect both themselves and uninsured drivers. If you suffer physical injuries or property damage as a result of your accident with an insured driver, their insurance companies may still be required to pay for your medical treatment and vehicle repairs. PD coverage may also pay for any legal fees you incur.
In states where UMBI is not required, many auto insurance policies still include UMBI as optional coverage.
Indiana Laws on Uninsured Drivers
As an uninsured driver in Indiana, you can still file a claim after your car accident. However, you may still face consequences for failing to purchase car insurance. Some of the legal ramifications for uninsured drivers in Indiana include:
- Driver’s license suspension:
After your first offense, you will face a 90-day suspension of your license. After a second offense, your suspension will last for one year. A third offense will suspend your license for three years.
- License reinstatement fees:
A first offense requires you to pay $250 to have your license reinstated. A second offense will cost $500. If you’re uninsured and pulled over or involved in an accident for a third time, the fee is raised to $1000.
- Required SR22 Insurance:
SR22 insurance is a certificate of financial responsibility that exponentially
raises your insurance rates. SR22 is typically a requirement for drivers with
multiple driving infractions or DUI charges. In Indiana, a first uninsured driving
charge requires a mandated three years of SR22 insurance.
- Vehicle Registration Suspension:
Driving without insurance can lead to the prevention of renewing your vehicle
registration for one year.
How to File a Claim Without Insurance
If you weren’t at fault in your accident but it occurred when you were uninsured, this does not diminish the validity of your claim. You may have a legal case for the personal injury you’ve endured. Nonetheless, if you file a claim with an insurance company, the company may report your uninsured status to law enforcement and to the Indiana BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles).
Reasons to File a Claim
You may determine that filing a claim is worth the consequences you will face as an uninsured driver. Your accident was not your fault: The financial obligations that mount in the aftermath of your accident should fall to the at-fault driver.
Reasons to file a claim may include:
- Medical Expenses: Any doctor’s appointments, drug prescriptions, hospital stays, and surgical procedures related to your accident.
- Repair and Transportation Costs: If your vehicle was damaged in your accident or you needed another mode of transportation as a result of your accident, this could lead to potential compensation.
- Lost income: If your accident leads to documented unpaid time off from work, or you miss out on benefits (including bonuses or scheduled raises).
- Emotional distress: Documented diagnosis from a psychological professional of emotional trauma caused by your accident.
How a car accident lawyer can help you
You can file a personal injury claim on your own. However, you may find your case easier to pursue with the assistance of a car accident lawyer.
Insurance companies can express reluctance in settling a claim filed by an uninsured driver. A seasoned, empathetic lawyer has dealt with these companies before, and may know how to cut through an insurer’s red tape.
An attorney can also help you with the charges you may face for driving sans insurance. Although you are legally required to purchase auto insurance for your vehicle, this does not negate the suffering caused by your accident.
At Yosha Law, we are passionate about our insured and uninsured clients alike and consider them part of our family. We will help with your personal injury claim and fight for what you’re owed.
We also offer an initial free case evaluation where we can help you explore the merits of your case and guide you through the legal process.