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If you drive with no auto insurance, and if you injure someone, you’ll be in big legal trouble. But what if you have no insurance, and you are the one who’s injured? Will you have any recourse?

Driving without automobile insurance is not a good idea. It’s against the law in California. This state requires every driver to carry the following minimum automobile insurance coverages:

1. $5,000 for property damage
2. $15,000 for one person’s injury or death
3. $30,000 total for the injuries or deaths of more than one person in a single accident

These are merely the minimum coverage amounts set by California law. Motorists can – and probably should – carry more coverage, particularly uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

CAN YOU COMPLY WITH THE LAW WITHOUT BUYING AUTO INSURANCE?

However, the state of California also allows vehicle owners to choose from three other options for compliance with the state’s financial responsibility laws.

Instead of buying a regular commercial auto insurance policy, vehicle owners in California may:

1. make a $35,000 cash deposit with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
2. obtain a self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
3. obtain a $35,000 surety bond

California is an automobile insurance “fault” state rather than a “no-fault” state.

IF YOU ARE INJURED, WHERE SHOULD YOU SEEK LEGAL ADVICE?

If you are injured in a traffic accident in southern California and you are not the at-fault driver, seek advice at once from an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

Your lawyer may – or may not – recommend filing a personal injury claim.

A number of factors must be considered before making that decision, but your future and your health are too important to risk. You must have the advice of a good personal injury attorney.

Do not agree to any settlement offer from an insurance company until you’ve consulted a good injury lawyer, and do not sign anything – you might be waiving your right to take legal action.

HOW ARE MOST CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED?

If you eventually file a personal injury claim, your claim will probably be settled out of court. That’s how more than ninety percent of personal injury matters are resolved in California.

But if an acceptable settlement is not offered, your lawyer may recommend taking the case to trial. If you can prove your claim in court, you can be awarded the compensation you need.

Nevertheless, an uninsured driver – even one who is injured by a negligent-but-insured driver – may face some serious consequences for driving without auto insurance.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO UNINSURED CALIFORNIA DRIVERS?

If a California traffic crash results in any injury, death, or property damage exceeding $750, both drivers must present evidence of “financial responsibility” to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Financial responsibility” means legally sufficient auto insurance coverage or one of the three self-insurance options (listed above) which California allows in lieu of auto insurance coverage.

If you do not have proof of financial responsibility at the time of an accident, you will be fined, your driver’s license will be suspended for one-year, and your vehicle may be impounded.

After a year, if you can show proof of financial responsibility, you may apply to have your driver’s license reinstated.

But a second accident without insurance can result in a four-year driver’s license suspension.

Some states like Hawaii have different laws, so it is advised to consult with a Wailuku personal injury attorney.

APART FROM THE LAW, WHY IS HAVING AUTO INSURANCE SO IMPERATIVE?

If you drive without insurance, and you are involved in an accident that injures both drivers, the other driver may seek to claim damages against you – whether or not you file your own claim.

It is in every California driver’s best interests to make certain that you have adequate automobile insurance coverage. If you don’t, you must obtain it as swiftly as possible.

WHAT IF YOU GENUINELY CANNOT AFFORD AUTO INSURANCE?

If you cannot afford vehicle liability insurance, you may qualify for the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program.

You can learn more about this program at the California Department of Insurance website, http://www.insurance.ca.gov/.

The program provides affordable automobile liability insurance to eligible California drivers who demonstrate financial need, provided that they satisfy the program’s other requirements.

WHAT IF YOU ARE THE ONE WHO’S INJURED – BY AN UNINSURED DRIVER?

If you are involved in an accident as an uninsured driver, you could be held personally liable for property damages, personal injuries, and even wrongful death in the worst-case scenario.

But what if you are in compliance with California’s auto insurance regulations, and you are injured in southern California by a driver who is both at-fault and uninsured?

Except to notify your own insurance company that an accident has happened, do not make any statement to an insurance company.

As mentioned previously – and this is key – if you’ve been injured, do not sign any document provided by an auto insurance company before you’ve obtained legal representation and advice.

HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

Instead, after you’ve been examined by a healthcare professional, discuss the accident and injury immediately with a good personal injury lawyer.

You’ll need to learn where you stand legally, and most personal injury lawyers will review your case for free. Your attorney will sort out the details and explain your rights and legal options.

If you file a personal injury claim, let your lawyer negotiate with the insurance company – while you focus on recovering your health.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?

California does not require motorists to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

But when you consider that one out of every seven California drivers has no auto insurance coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance can provide genuine protection.

Uninsured motorist insurance kicks in if you are injured by a negligent driver who has no auto insurance coverage. It’s coverage that your own insurer provides when the other driver has none.

Why is having uninsured motorist coverage so important, especially in California?

Because drivers with no auto insurance are – as you would predict – drivers with no resources, so pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in such cases is almost always futile.

WHAT ARE THE VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE ENTITLED TO IN CALIFORNIA?

Still, if you are injured by another California driver’s negligence, and without regard to who is or is not insured or how much insurance either driver has, you are entitled to full compensation for your damages.

Those damages include all of your accident-related medical expenses, your lost wages and any future lost earnings capacity, pain, suffering, and all other related damages and losses.

The right lawyer will use every appropriate legal tool and strategy to help you win that compensation.

You are also entitled to justice. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in southern California, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney help you obtain it.

By: On Behalf of The Firm

Thon Beck Vanni Callahan & Powell strive to give back to our community and produce positive results for our clients. Our office is located in the heart of Pasadena, we offer free consultations and can't wait to help you!