One of the worst possible positions anyone can be in is to be without car insurance and be involved in a car accident. Not only are you at risk of having your personal assets confiscated as the result of a judgment against you but you can be in trouble with the law as well. Having no insurance is a situation you should avoid at all costs, but what happens if you simply did not have insurance at the time of a wreck? Should you give up all hope of collecting any damages for your injuries?
Actually, it is possible, though not easy, to collect compensation for injuries from an accident even if you were not operating your vehicle legally at the time of the crash. This is because of the difference between criminal and civil law and the outcomes expected from each type of action.
Criminal vs. Civil Law
Criminal law is the area of the law that applies to infractions of the criminal code. Civil law, on the other hand, deals with torts or actions that harm others physically, emotionally or financially. While it may sometimes be difficult to tell the two apart or to understand the difference, there is a great deal of difference in how each type of case is handled.
For example, if a person causes a crash, the police will investigate whether the person was drinking or speeding and whether the driver failed to yield the right-of-way. All of these are criminal matters, and the driver can be charged with various crimes, fined and even put in jail if found guilty.
However, for the victims of that crash, a civil lawsuit, alleging negligence on the part of the driver, is the only way for them to recover payment for the injuries they have sustained. This type of lawsuit will be heard in civil court, not in criminal court, and no matter what the outcome, the driver will not be sent to jail. Instead, he or she may be liable for monetary damages payable to the victim of the accident.
What If I Am Charged With Having No Insurance?
It is no use pretending that being charged with driving without insurance is not a serious crime. You may find that it is difficult to convince a jury that you are entitled to payment of damages if you are not obeying the law when you are injured in the accident.
On the other hand, the fact that you broke the law does not mean that you are not entitled to be compensated for your injuries. This is particularly true if you suffer serious physical trauma. Your medical bills, lost wages and other financial hardships should be repaid by the person who caused your accident even if you were not insured at the time.
The best way to handle this situation may be to turn it over to a personal injury attorney. An attorney has years of experience in helping victims like you recover damages under all sorts of circumstances. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you convince a jury or an insurance company that you are indeed a victim and that you are entitled to compensation.
California allows juries to consider relative or comparative liability. This means that even if you are somewhat at fault in the accident, you may still be entitled to recover damages. An accident attorney will work with you to recover monetary compensation for your injuries and pay for the expenses associated with your accident, no matter what the circumstances of your crash.