My car insurance lapsed and I had an accident. What do I do now?
Motor Vehicles Accidents - May 13, 2023
You’re involved in a sudden car collision – and as soon as it happens, you realize you forgot to pay your car insurance. If you’ve been in an accident and don’t have insurance, it’s easy to panic, but the worst thing you can do is leave the scene. That is a misdemeanor in Chicago if no one was injured, and a felony if someone was hurt – so leaving the scene could get you into more trouble.
Treat the accident as you normally would, by exchanging contact information with the other driver and contacting the police. The police report will contain evidence of who is to blame for the collision and can help you prove you didn’t cause the accident.
Do I need a lawyer after a car accident with lapsed insurance?
Yes, it’s always best to have legal representation after a car wreck, even if you know that the other driver caused it. It’s even more important if you got into a wreck and you don’t have a valid insurance policy.
Illinois requires all drivers to carry liability insurance, per the Mandatory Insurance Law (625 ILCS 5/7-601), so you’ve already violated one law. Legal advice can help protect you and possibly mitigate these penalties:
- Minimum fine of $500 for driving uninsured
- Suspension of your car’s license plates if you’re convicted
- Minimum fine of $1000 for driving a vehicle while the license plates are suspended
A Chicago car accident attorney defends you if the other driver decides to take you to court after a wreck. Once the other driver (and their car wreck lawyer) sees you didn’t have insurance, they may be more likely to take their chances with a trial since a judge or jury may not look favorably on an uninsured driver.
Do I need to contact my insurance company if I get in an accident after my policy lapses?
Yes, even if the policy lapsed, calling your insurance carrier’s a good idea. There is a (small) chance that you may be in a “grace period,” where your policy technically hasn’t been canceled and you’re still covered.
You may have to pay fines and fees, but if your policy has a grace period, the carrier may reinstate it. However, never reinstate your policy and then lie about the date of the accident to be covered. That’s insurance fraud and it could result in a felony charge.
How do I pay for car accident damages if my car insurance lapsed and I had an accident?
You do not need to pay for accident damages if you were not at fault for the accident. Illinois is an at-fault state for car accidents, meaning you must prove the other driver caused the accident to collect compensation for your own losses. Your Chicago car accident attorney can use the police report, photos and videos, and witness statements to prove you didn’t cause the wreck and don’t have to pay for damages.
But, what if you did cause the accident or at least contributed more than 50% of the blame? You’re on the hook for the other driver’s car repairs and medical bills. The other driver could sue you personally. You may be able to work out a payment arrangement if you don’t have the means to cover their damages, but a lawyer can significantly improve your chances of negotiations in this situation.
Protect yourself after a car accident. Call our Chicago car accident lawyers today!
Have you been in a car wreck after your insurance coverage lapsed? We can help protect your rights and get you compensation – but you need to act quickly. Contact Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates today at (800) 985-1819 for a free case review.