What Happens If You Get Into a Car Accident Without Insurance?
by Eric Chaffin | Last Updated: April 12, 2021
In Pennsylvania, there are strict insurance requirements for any vehicles that enter the roadway. Any vehicle that requires registration to operate on a public road must carry insurance. This includes cars, trucks, commercial vehicles, buses, and motorcycles, among others.
There are substantial penalties that come with driving without insurance. However, these penalties are minor compared to the limitations you could face regarding compensation following a severe accident.
Not only does the lack of an insurance policy limit your sources of compensation, it could also impact your ability to hold a negligent driver accountable for a crash. Understanding the state insurance requirements and how the lack of insurance could impact your personal injury claim is important if you have been hurt in a crash.
Pennsylvania insurance requirements
Like most states, Pennsylvania requires more than just having an insurance policy in place before you get behind the wheel. These policies must carry a minimum amount of coverage to comply with state law. These minimums apply not only to coverage for the other driver’s injuries but their property damage losses as well. The state minimums include:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person in a single accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death in total for a single accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
Once you have arranged for car insurance, your insurer will typically issue you an I.D. card that you can use to prove that you have the mandatory coverage.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania
If you are pulled over or involved in a car accident and cannot provide proof of insurance, the consequences can be steep. Upon a conviction, you can expect the following consequences:
- A $300 fine
- Suspension of your vehicle registration for three months
- A fee to restore your registration
- Suspension of your driver’s license for three months
- A fee to restore your driver’s license
- Prohibition on anyone else driving your vehicle during the three-month suspension.
While these consequences can leave you with a notable hardship, they do not compare to the impact driving without insurance can have on a personal injury claim.
Pursuing legal action for a crash without insurance
For years, state law was unclear on an uninsured motorist’s right to pursue an injury claim. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court cleared up the issue by agreeing an uninsured motorist is entitled to seek compensation against a negligent insured driver. However, that right could be limited compared to other plaintiffs.
The court decision confirms that uninsured drivers may pursue compensation for their economic damages. Economic damages are measurable, meaning their amount is easily demonstrated through bills or other evidence. These damages commonly include medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repair expenses.
The law is unclear regarding non-economic damages, however. Non-economic damages are not as easily discernible compared to economic damages. In many cases, they are subjective. Some common types of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
While it may be unclear if these damages are available to an uninsured driver, it is always the best practice to discuss these claims with experienced legal counsel as soon after the accident as possible.
Discuss your options with experienced legal counsel
If you have suffered injuries due to the careless or reckless actions of another driver, you are entitled to seek compensation even if you were uninsured at the time. However, your available compensation could be less than what other motorists might recover.
At Chaffin Luhana, we are prepared to fight for your legal rights no matter your insurance status. If another person is responsible for your injuries, we are ready to work diligently to hold them accountable.
If you are ready to move forward with your claim, contact a qualified Pittsburgh auto accident lawyer right away.