If I was recently involved in an accident and didn’t have insurance due to lack of money, does that automatically make me at fault?

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If I was recently involved in an accident and didn’t have insurance due to lack of money, does that automatically make me at fault?

Asked on December 9, 2011 under Accident Law, Tennessee

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you had insurance does NOT determine who was at fault in the accident.  The facts of the accident determine who was at fault in the accident.  If there was a police report, the police report will state who was at fault in the accident.

If you were NOT at fault in the accident, you should file a property damage claim and if applicable a personal injury claim with the at-fault party's insurance carrier.  The property damage claim is for the cost of repairs to your car.  If you were injured in the accident, when you complete your medical treatment and are released by the doctor or are declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary, which means you have a reached a point where no further improvement is anticipated, obtain your medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  Your personal injury claim filed with the at-fault party's insurance carrier should include these items.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  If the case is settled with the insurance company, NO lawsuit is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance company, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the at-fault party.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance company, you will need to file your lawsuit for negligence prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

If you were at fault in the accident (based solely on the facts of the accident), since you didn't have insurance you can be sued by the other party for negligence.  You would be liable for property damage to the other vehicle, and if injured the other party's medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering and wage loss.  You might want to consider filing bankruptcy if the other driver gets a court judgment against you.  It would be premature to file for bankruptcy prior to the other party obtaining a judgment against you.   

 


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