What Uninsured Drivers Should Expect After an Accident

Serving the Injured Throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island

According to recent reports, as many as 30 million Americans don’t have automobile liability insurance, despite that it is required in 49 states and the District of Columbia. While the percentage of uninsured drivers in Massachusetts is the lowest of any state (3.9 percent; the Bay State was the first state to require auto insurance for all vehicles), in Rhode Island, it’s among the highest (17 percent).

Let’s say that you are an uninsured Massachusetts or Rhode Island driver. What should you expect after an accident?

Expect to Get Caught

In the old days, the only way a police officer at an accident scene could determine the insurance status of a driver was to call the toll-free number on the driver’s insurance card and wait for customer service. With new strides in technology, however, police can now access insurance databases with electronic speed. If you are “going naked”– the term often used for driving without insurance – the police will likely know it even before the accident scene is cleared.

Expect Possible Criminal Charges

Driving without appropriate levels of liability insurance – or permitting someone else to drive your uninsured vehicle – is a criminal matter in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

If convicted in Massachusetts, you can face a fine of up to $5,000, and as much as a year in jail.

In Rhode Island, it’s an equally serious matter. Depending upon whether you have been previously convicted of the same offense, you can face expensive fines and suspension of your driver’s license.

Massachusetts “No-Fault” Statutes Mean Your Own Recovery May Be Limited Even if the Other Driver Was At-Fault

Massachusetts, like a number of other states, has a no-fault automobile liability insurance law. In a no-fault state, when an accident causes injuries, each person files a claim with his or her own insurance company for personal injury protection (PIP) and other benefits. Those injured may not sue the other driver – even if that other driver was at-fault – unless:

  • The injured person has incurred at least $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses, or
  • Has sustained serious injuries, such as serious disfigurement, fractured bone, or substantial loss of hearing or sight.

If you have no insurance, there is generally no insurance company with which to file a claim. If your injuries are less severe than those described above, you may be precluded from filing an action altogether.

Rhode Island is Pure Tort State

In Rhode Island, a person injured in an auto accident may sue any negligent driver, including the driver of the vehicle in which the person was riding. Personal injury recovery can vary, of course. Injured parties are generally entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, including those incurred in the future;
  • Lost wages;
  • Losses associated with permanent disability and/or scarification; and
  • Pain and suffering.

You Need Experienced Counsel if You Are Uninsured or if You Have Been Involved in an Auto Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in an automobile accident that occurred in either Rhode Island or Massachusetts, The Bottaro Law Firm, LLC can help.  We are a top-rated team of experienced personal injury attorneys who have achieved extraordinary results representing victims in auto accidents throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. To discuss the specifics of your case with one of our attorneys at no cost, call (401) 777–7777 or complete this short information form on our web site.