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“I was in a car accident with no insurance and no police involvement, will I have to pay?”

October 3, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

I recently received a question from someone in Grand Rapids on Avvo.com.  I frequently answer car accident questions on Avvo for people looking for advice.  Here is my Avvo profile that includes dozens of questions I’ve previously answered.

I wanted to share this recent question for my  readers, because everyone knows someone who is driving in this state without auto insurance. A lot of these people have fallen on hard times and had to drop their auto insurance. But when they’re later involved in a car accident,  the questions always come up as to their liability and rights.

So what happens when you are driving without insurance and get involved in a car accident? The consequences and penalities are incredibly harsh.

Here was the question from Avvo:

Q. I was backing out of my driveway into a main intersection and hit a car waiting at the stoplight. My taillight cracked, and there was a scratch and a small dent on the bumper of the other car. The driver, a middle-aged woman, took pictures of our cars/my license plate/drivers license. I do not have insurance, and she did not call the police. She did take my phone number, and told me that she would get an estimate from her insurance company, and call me with the information. Considering that there were no witnesses (other than her 8-10 year old daughter) does she have any actual proof of an accident, and is it possible that I could be forced to pay for the damage to her car?

A. Since you are writing from Grand Rapids, Michigan, I assume the crash happened in Michigan and if so, then you as an uninsured driver are not protected by Michigan’s mini tort law. This means you are now exposed to the total cost of the vehicle damage.

Also, you are now personally liable for any injuries if the other driver is seriously injured, and you will likely be sued by the other driver’s auto insurance company if she recovers after bringing an uninsured motorist claim against her insurance company. The penalties for driving uninsured in Michigan are extremely harsh.

Yes, there is real evidence against you – as you say you were backing out of your driveway and hit a vehicle with the right of way at an intersection that was waiting for a stoplight.

Finally, I would not make the leap that because the vehicle suffered minimal visible damage, that this would mean the occupant is fine. Vehicle damage does not correlate with occupant injury, and there are hundreds of cases every year where the vehicle is fine, but the occupant suffers severe injury or even death. Think of Sam Kinison (or Natasha Richardson) as two examples of why pictures of a car cannot rule out injury to an occupant.

Related information:

4 risks for driving without insurance in Michigan 

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