Common Question 13

Question: What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

YOU CANNOT COLLECT ALL YOUR DAMAGES. If you are the owner or driver of a vehicle with no insurance and you are injured in an accident, California law says that you are limited in what you can be paid for your injuries.

  • Usually, an injured person can recover compensation for two types of damages: economic and non-economic.
  • “Economic damages” means payment for out-of-pocket expenses
    • medical bills
    • lost income
    • damage to your car or your property.
  • “Non-economic damages” means payment for
    • pain
    • suffering
    • inconvenience and damage to your lifestyle.

“Non-economic damages” are often the largest part of a personal injury recovery. If you are a driver or owner of an uninsured vehicle and you are injured in an accident in that vehicle, you may only recover your economic damages. You are not allowed to recover non-economic damages. This severely reduces the amount of your recovery and may make it difficult for you to obtain the legal assistance you need.

YOU MAY LOSE YOUR LICENSE. The law requires every driver to report to the DMV any motor vehicle accident in which a person is injured or in which damage to property exceeds $500.00. If the DMV finds out that you own or were driving a vehicle that was involved in an accident on a public street and that was not covered by insurance, the DMV may suspend your driver’s license for one year and until you pay a reinstatement fee and show proof of insurance. It doesn’t matter if the accident was not your fault. If your license was suspended for this reason, you may be able to get a restricted license to be used for a limited purpose, such as driving for a living, or to transport a child to school or a sick person to the doctor. Before you decide to run the risk of driving without insurance, remember, even the world’s best driver can get hit by someone else. It is not worth the risk.

If you would like us to evaluate your accident claim, please complete and submit a Case Evaluation Form.