One of the questions we often get is whether you can sue for being injured in a car accident if you do not have insurance. The answer is a little disconcerting. In fact, you cannot sue for pain and suffering compensation, medical bills, lost wages, or vehicle damage repair costs even if you were completely innocent and the other driver was found to be completely at fault. However, you can still be sued for other people’s medical bills and lost wages.
In short, this is one of the more unfortunate features of Michigan’s auto No-Fault law. It also proves just how the law is significantly tilted towards auto insurance companies while uninsured drivers, who often cannot afford the premiums, are left with added financial obligations.
The situation is even worse for any driver involved in a car accident without insurance who is not at fault in Michigan. He or she could be prevented by Michigan law from suing the at-fault, negligent driver, while also facing civil fines, a driver license suspension, and possibly even jail time. Consider these facts as well:
- An uninsured driver involved in an auto accident when not at fault cannot sue for pain and suffering
- An uninsured driver involved in an auto accident when not at fault cannot sue for medical bills and lost wages.
- An uninsured driver involved in an auto accident when not at fault cannot sue for vehicle damage.
Both of these facts mean that drivers who are uninsured are unable to seek legal compensation for payment of crash-related medical bills, the costs of fixing your vehicle, or even more importantly, reimbursement of wages if injuries resulting from the auto accident disable you from returning to work.
Normally, a victim is entitled to recover No-Fault personal protection or PIP benefits to pay for medical bills (up to the No-Fault PIP medical benefits coverage selected in the policy through which benefits are sought) and lost wages. The bottom line is that unless health coverage or Medicare or Medicaid will provide coverage, the uninsured driver will have to pay out of pocket for his or her medical bills and lost wages.
Yet even if you are not at fault, an uninsured driver can be sued. That’s because an uninsured driver involved in an auto accident when not at fault CAN be sued for other people’s medical bills and lost wages – even by the driver who caused the accident. In fact, the No-Fault law allows the auto insurance companies to sue you not only for “all benefits paid,” but also for “incurred loss adjustment costs and expenses, and incurred attorney fees.”
When you do not have insurance and are at fault
As you might expect, being at fault without insurance is an unfortunate and possibly costly situation for drivers. Some or all the following consequences could be in play:
- You could be sued by an injured party who was involved in the auto accident. This can include being held liable for pain and suffering compensation.
- You might be considered liable for the full value of any vehicle damage that may have occurred because of the accident.
Given this situation, the at-fault driver will likely have to pay out-of-pocket for any of these liabilities from their own personal assets such as savings, checking, retirement, college accounts for your kids, your home, your vehicles, recreational vehicles, and future income. Without the requisite insurance, the financial strain may be difficult to manage.
If you or someone close to you has recently been injured in an auto accident, contact a Bashore Green attorney today.