Car insurance is one of the key requirements for drivers in California and across the country. Driving without auto insurance is illegal, however many drivers still risk it. If an uninsured driver causes an accident resulting in injuries and other losses for you, recovering compensatory damages can be a bit complicated. This is where an Orange County car accident attorney can help you.
A driver found to be operating a vehicle without car insurance is likely to face penalties. The penalties become severe if the uninsured driver is also found at fault in an accident. Uninsured motorists also have limited options for recovering compensation if they suffer losses due to another driver’s fault.
Here is a look at the penalties you may face as an uninsured driver in California.
Penalties of Driving Without Car Insurance in California
California laws require you to either carry auto insurance or meet self-insurance requirements. You can purchase an auto insurance policy from a number of insurers. Alternatively, you can deposit $35,000 in cash directly to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or submit a surety bond for this sum. The DMV will then provide you with a self-insurance certificate.
If you fail to produce proof of either type of car insurance and are caught operating a vehicle, you will face penalties. For a first offense, California laws mandate a fine of $100 to $200. If you are found driving without insurance a second time, the fines can range from $200 to $500.
However, you will also face additional fees and expenses in addition to the fine itself. Authorities may have your vehicle impounded and towed away from the location where you are caught driving without insurance. The costs of towing and storing the vehicle until you can produce proof of insurance will be borne by you.
All in all, even a first offense can cost you up to around $700 in total costs. The expenses associated with a second offense can go up to $1,800.
If you are driving without car insurance in Orange County and are involved in an accident, you may face license suspension. This is the case whether or not you are at fault for causing the crash. The license suspension period can be as long as four years depending on the nature of the accident and the involvement of traffic violations.
Once you are caught driving without insurance and your license is suspended, you also need to meet SR-22 insurance requirements. This is an additional insurance policy that you must carry in addition to a regular car insurance policy. So you will essentially need to pay for two policies.
Once you get an SR-22 policy, which typically costs more than a regular policy, the insurer will provide you with an SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility certificate. You must provide this certificate to the DMV before your license can be reinstated.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If you are at fault in an Orange County accident while driving without insurance, you will be held liable for all the damages involved. This includes the medical costs, vehicle damage, and any other losses suffered by all the parties involved in the accident. The other driver may recoup some of these damages under their uninsured motorist coverage. However, when the losses amount up to tens of thousands of dollars, the other driver’s insurance company is very likely to sue you.
In the event of a lawsuit, a court will see whether you have any valuable assets. If you do, the court may order you to pay the damages or have your assets liquidated to ensure the payment of damages.
Limited Damages for Crash-Related Losses
When you are not at fault in an accident while operating as an uninsured motorist, you are still at a disadvantage. Under California’s ‘No Pay, No Play’ rule, you can’t seek non-economic damages as an uninsured driver involved in a crash. So the only damages available to you include medical costs, lost wages, and other economic damages.
Why Hire An Orange County Car Accident Attorney?
If you have suffered losses in an Orange County car crash caused by an uninsured motorist, it is important to get legal help at the earliest. Here at the Crockett Law Group, we help you explore your options for compensation in the event of such an accident. We also work with you to see if a lawsuit can be brought against the at-fault driver to recover a fair amount of damages. Reach out to us today to discuss your car crash claim with our attorneys.