What to do ifI and an auto accident but my coverage was lapsed?

I was involved in an auto accident. I rear-ended a couple when they slammed on their brakes. I received a ticket for following too close and an expired insurance card. When the officer pointed out that my card had expired I quickly made an insurance payment not knowing that it was time to renew. The insurance company accepted my payment and did not alert me that my policy had previously “cancelled”. When I called to file my claim the agent took my information and statement and said an adjuster would contact me within 48 hours. This morning the adjuster called an informed me that I had a lapse in coverage during the time of the accident. The other vehicle involved in the accident didn’t incur near the damage as my vehicle and they are insured. My car has a lienholder and they have not been notified of the accident and I am unsure if they will be. What is the best thing that I can do to protect myself from being sued and losing my license?

Asked on March 12, 2012 under Accident Law, Tennessee

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, since your insurance had lapsed, there isn't really any way to protect yourself from being sued by the other party or possibly having your license suspended for driving without insurance.  If the other party had uninsured motorist coverage, the owner of the other car could file an uninsured motorist claim through his/her insurance carrier.  If the other party had uninsured motorist coverage, their insurance company could sue you for the amount it pays on their claim.  There might be both property damage and personal injury claims.  The property damage claim would be the cost of repairs to their vehicle.  The personal injury claim would include compensation for the medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills and  compensation for wage loss.

If the other party gets a court judgment against you which you can't afford to pay, you might want to consider filing bankruptcy.  It would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a court judgment against you.  Don't worry about this situation because it could be a year or longer before there is any court judgment against you.


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