What to do if I was at-fault for a car accident butI don’t have a license?

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What to do if I was at-fault for a car accident butI don’t have a license?

I have heard many stories that they could take my house and everything I have. I don’t know what to do.

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Accident Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Presumably, if you don't have a license, you also don't have auto insurance. In that case, if you are sued and found to be liable (which is likely, if you agree that you were at-fault), then the plaintiff (the person who sues you) will get a judgment for the amount of damages he can prove. This can be small, if there is just a little property damage (e.g. damage to the car) and maybe one or two doctor's visits to make sure there are no injuries; or the amount of damages can run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars--even potentially more than a million--if there is cripping physical injury or death.

Whatever the amount, you'd have to pay it. If you can't or don't pay it, there are several ways to possibly get the money from you, including putting a lien on your house, garnishing wages, levying on your bank account, or executing on (forcing the sale of) other property (furniture, appliances, tools, equipment, vehicles) of yours.

If sued, you should consult with an attorney and retain one to defend yourself. Having a lawyer will increase you odds of, at best winning; or if not, at least reducing the amount you'd have to pay.

If you are sued and lose, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney--declaring bankruptcy may, at that point, be your best bet, since that may allow you to discharge (eliminate) the debt against you, though there are costs involved in doing that--either having to liquidate much of your property, or else having to live under a payment plan for several years.


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