Car accident. I am having difficulty thinking this through clearly. Please help me figure out what steps I need to take.
Another car that was slightly ahead of mine entered my lane, swiped along the front driver's side, and pushed my car to the side of the road where I hit an obstacle. No one was injured. Side damage to the other car, front and some side damage to mine, and mine could not be driven following the accident. My front doors would not open more than halfway.
Police officers arrived, took statements, and said there would be an accident report. They did not declare either of us to be at fault at the time. They called a towing company and my car was towed. The other car was safe to drive away.
Country is USA, state is PA. I suspected my policy was lapsed, but when called, the company told me it was cancelled. I am the sole owner of my car, and have less than $2000 remaining on the loan. The other driver is not the owner of the other car and possibly/likely was not listed as a driver on the other car's insurance. I do not know if the insurance for the other car was full tort or limited tort
My fear is that because I am without insurance, the company that insures the other driver will take the opportunity to declare the accident my fault, and I will have no one on my side if I am taken to court. The damage to the other car was not severe, but I know that even cosmetic damage can be very costly.
I am less concerned about how to repair my own car, and in the event that its damage is more than I can afford, I will probably get rid of it while continuing with the remaining payments. It will be a hardship, but at least one that is more within my control.
I have no savings, no assets, and little spare income on my salary even on a strict budget. I know that continuing to drive while letting insurance lapse was incredibly stupid, but I'm having a hard time holding it together at the moment as it is, for a variety of reasons. Please, I cannot take a lecture right now, and the police will be handling that job in the next few days anyway.
The officer I spoke with has asked me to come to the station and present my insurance card. Though the policy is cancelled, I intend to go anyway to let them know this in person. They did not give me any citations at the time, but I'm not sure if that will change once my insurance status is clarified.
1) Is there anything else I should do/say during that meeting?
2) Should I contact a lawyer? Before or after I speak with the police again? I thought I would try to call Legal Aid when they open in the morning, but have no idea if my income is within the expected range, or if they help with this kind of situation. Are there other options that would be suitable to someone in my situation?
3) If the damage to the other car is determined to be my fault and I must pay, are payment plans possible and how do they tend to work?
4) If the damage to my car is more than I can reasonably afford, what are some options for getting rid of the car?
While I am competent enough in many areas, I am ignorant of how insurance and legal disputes actually tend to play out, and I also have difficulty in general formulating specific plans of action on my own. Add to that the fact that my head is spinning with concerns over how this will affect other areas of my life that were already problematic, and the result is that I am pretty upset and scared. Any help, advice, anything would be so incredibly appreciated. anonforcaradvice at gmail if anyone prefers that.