Drivers in California should carry liability insurance coverage at the very least, even if they don’t want to invest in extra coverage. Despite clear requirements imposed by the state, a surprising number of people still let their policies lapse or make financial mistakes that result in a coverage gap.
Whether you just made a mistake or you gambled by letting your policy lapse knowingly, you may feel very worried about your rights if you get hurt in a car crash when you don’t have insurance. Can you expect the policy carried by the other driver to cover you if you don’t have insurance?
Your claim rights stem from fault and liability rules
If you aren’t to blame for the crash, the other driver is the one whose policy should apply to collision-related costs. The good news is that you can at least file a basic insurance claim against the other driver’s policy after a crash if the police officer responding to the scene makes it clear in the official report that the other driver is to blame.
However, your lack of active insurance coverage may limit what compensation you can seek. California has a special rule in place that prevents people without insurance coverage from seeking compensation for non-economic losses. Non-economic losses include your pain and suffering after the crash or your mental anguish at being unable to work because of your injuries.
You will have the right to file an insurance claim for up to the maximum amount of coverage for your economic losses. Those costs include your hospital bills, the cost to tow, repair or replace your vehicle and even your lost wages. You may also be able to file a civil lawsuit against the other driver if their coverage is not enough to reimburse you for your economic damages.
You may face secondary consequences as an uninsured driver
While the police officer may issue a citation to the other driver for causing the crash, they might issue you a ticket as well for driving without insurance. Drivers who don’t maintain their own coverage also put themselves at risk of having inadequate insurance, as your supplemental collision coverage or underinsured motorist protection could play a major role in reducing the long-term costs the crash causes you.
Understanding what rights you have as an uninsured driver hurt by someone else in a car crash will help you get the compensation you deserve for the injuries you suffered.