What Happens if You Get into a Car Accident Without Insurance?

Las Vegas Car Accident

Insurance provides peace of mind in the event you cause a car crash. It’s also required if you register a vehicle in Nevada. According to the Division of Insurance, anyone who registers a vehicle should carry at least $20,000 in property damage insurance, along with $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance, up to $50,000 per accident.

But what happens if you get into a car accident without insurance? Below, we answer some of the more important questions about car insurance in Vegas.

How Many Drivers are Uninsured in Nevada?

According to some media reports, about 1 in 10 Nevada drivers lacks insurance. The number might be higher in Las Vegas specifically, because many people drive into the city from out of state, and they might lack insurance as well.

Is It Against the Law to Drive without Insurance?

Yes. Nevada Revised Statute 485.187(1)(a) states that it is a misdemeanor offense to drive without insurance. If convicted, you could pay a $600 fine for a first offense— much higher if this is your second or a subsequent offense. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles can also move to suspend your license, which will mean you cannot legally drive.

Can You Get Your License Back?

Yes. You can pay a reinstatement fee provided you actually get insurance. If you have insurance, you can also reduce the amount of your fine to $100 for a first offense.

Should You Report an Accident if You Did Not Have Insurance?

Yes. Some people want to avoid a possible license suspension, so they decide to skip reporting the accident. Sounds simple, right? If the state never finds out about the wreck, they’ll never find out you were driving while uninsured.

But reporting is mandatory under a different statute. And it is a crime to fail to report an accident that causes injury or property damage. You can expect the other driver to disclose your identity when they report the accident, which means the Department of Motor Vehicles will find out anyway. So now you have made your problems worse—you were driving without insurance and you tried to hide an accident. It’s best to report a collision even if you are not insured.

Las Vegas Car Accident

What Do You Tell the Officer if You Don’t Have Insurance?

An officer might come out to the scene of the accident and request registration and insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you shouldn’t lie. Don’t say, “My insurance card is at home” because an officer can look in a database to see if you have coverage. It is better to tell the truth and then get insurance so you don’t lose your license.

Can You Receive Compensation in an Accident You Do Not Have Insurance?

It depends on the circumstances. The fact that you don’t have insurance does not prohibit you from being compensated when another person is at fault for the wreck. That is always the touchstone in Nevada car accident cases—fault. Fault can be shared—maybe you were 30% at fault and the other driver was 70%. But you can still receive compensation provided your share of fault does not exceed 50%.

If the at-fault driver has insurance, you will make a claim on his or her insurance policy. The process isn’t very different than if you were insured. You will need to get forms from the at-fault driver’s insurer to fill out, and then negotiate with them. A Las Vegas car accident attorney can be a big help in this process.

What if the Other Driver is Uninsured?

If you are involved in a car wreck with an uninsured driver, then you can still be compensated for your losses—medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and pain and suffering.

If you have insurance, you should submit your claim to your insurer. They will then try to get paid from the uninsured driver.

By contrast, you could head directly to court and sue to collect on the at-fault driver’s assets: things like cash in a bank account, personal property, etc. You can try to negotiate a settlement, but few people will voluntarily sell their car to pay for your losses. So what you end up doing is filing a lawsuit and, if you win, try to collect on the defendant’s property. This is a cumbersome process, but it might be your best chance of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.

What if You Were at Fault for the Accident and Don’t Have Insurance?

In this situation, the injured victims can try to get your property. Some of it might be exempt under Nevada law. For example, any Social Security payments or unemployment compensation benefits are exempt. A person’s home or dwelling is also usually exempt, as is up to $15,000 of equity in a vehicle.

However, if you own a vacation property, then the person who you injured could sue you and, if they get a judgment in their favor, move to put a lien on it or even force a sale to collect. They might also be able to garnish your wages, though some of your wages will be exempt.

Alternatively, the other driver might file a claim with their insurer for compensation. Their insurer then comes after you for a settlement in a process called subrogation. You will have to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company to make the claim go away. The insurer might not sue you—it might not be worth their time to try and seize property, levy bank accounts, etc. Instead, they might have you present them with evidence of your financial condition by showing pay stubs, bank account information, and other relevant information. You then work with the insurer to reach an amount you can agree on and sign an agreement. With subrogation, however, the insurer could still sue you if you can’t reach a settlement both sides can agree on.

Can an Attorney Help if You Were in a Wreck While Uninsured?

Yes. An attorney can do many things. For example, a lawyer can help minimize your degree of fault so that you can collect for your losses. An attorney can also negotiate with the other driver’s insurer to get a fair settlement. This negotiation process is not as easy as some people expect. A lawyer will handle all paperwork and communication, freeing you up to focus on rehabbing your injuries and returning to work.

Can a Lawyer Help if the Other Driver Was Uninsured?

Yes. You should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. Unfortunately, some defendants are uncollectible. This means that they do not have any assets you can easily get to satisfy a court judgment. Think of a person who is disabled or on unemployment whose home is exempt from collection under Nevada law. They might also drive an old car and have very little cash in the bank. It will be hard to get any assets from the person, even if you win a lawsuit.

On the other hand, some defendants have substantial assets, even if they don’t have car insurance. They might have vacation or rental property, a small business, or substantial cash reserves, in which case your odds of receiving some compensation go up dramatically.

Contact Ladah Law Firm Today

Our firm of experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyers know the insurance industry inside and out. Whether you were uninsured or the other driver lacked insurance, we can review your situation and help you understand the process moving forward. Call us at (702) 252-0055 to schedule a time to meet.