Uninsured Motorist Accident
July 26, 2006 9:49 PM   Subscribe

What happens when you hit an uninsured driver?

My girlfriend rear-ended an uninsured driver today. They exchanged phone numbers but did not file a police report, nor has she given him her insurance information yet. The damage to both cars was fairly minor. What are her options at this point, and what penalty, if any, will the uninsured driver face if the accident is reported? We live in Washington state.
posted by mikelly to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
 
Depends on the state but for the most part both parties will be in some trouble if they don't report the accident within a certain amount of time of it occurring unless total cumulative damage was less than $500 (which is virtually impossible if there's any visual damage at all)...

She needs to report this right away if it's ever going to get reported at all... the uninsured driver's penalty will vary from state to state, and I don't know what it is for washington, but google will tell you, I'm sure.

... and sure enough: the law code on driving without insurance for washington state..
posted by twiggy at 10:24 PM on July 26, 2006


You can sue the uninsured driver, which is probably not going to be worth it (because if they can't afford auto insurance....), or you can get nothing. This is based on personal experience.

However, that's beside the point, because in a rear collision, the one doing the rear-ending is assumed to be at fault, especially if the accident is called in and the police never visited the scene. So your girlfriend can pay the uninsured driver in cash, give over her insurance info and wait for her rates to go up, or pretend that it didn't happen and wait to see whether the uninsured driver will put up a fight (albeit one he would lose, since there was no police report and he doesn't have her insurance info, and can't afford his own insurance, so probably can't afford a lawyer...).
posted by bingo at 10:24 PM on July 26, 2006


Depending, of course, on what your girlfriend wants to do, she really doesn't need to do anything. If there was no police report then the other driver has zero recourse. Penalties for the other driver not having insurance are probably very dependent on the state but again if there was no police report then I'd imagine it's unlikely he'll be cited after the fact.
posted by mattholomew at 10:25 PM on July 26, 2006


Uh, if you're at fault, which you are, it doesn't matter if the other driver has insurance or not, because it will be your responsibility to pay. If you have insurance your insurance company should pay, and your rates will (probably) go up.

If the accident is reported to the police the uninsured driver could get a ticket for driving without insurance. According to this that's a $250 ticket.

If you just report the accident to the insurance company it shouldn't be a problem. An insured driver ran into me once while I was uninsured. The police came, but said that legally no one was at fault because it was in a parking lot. Eventually his insurance company paid me $800 to fix my car, and I didn't get any tickets or fines, but this was in Iowa.
posted by delmoi at 10:25 PM on July 26, 2006


If the damage is minor, and if there's a fine for driving without insurance in your state, and if he says he wants to get the damage repaired, your gf may be able to cut a deal - don't put in a claim against my insurance, and I won't tell the cops you were driving uninsured.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:38 PM on July 26, 2006


Uh, if you're at fault, which you are, it doesn't matter if the other driver has insurance or not, because it will be your responsibility to pay.

Ditto. Imagine you hit someone walking on a sidewalk. Same idea.
posted by frogan at 10:46 PM on July 26, 2006


If the damages are low enough that she would prefer to pay cash instead of have her insurance pay (and suffer the damage to her record and rates hike) then she pays for his (as well as her) damages, on the agreement that neither party will report it. Thus she doesn't get an insurance hike, and he doesn't get a ticket.

If it's going to be reported, you may need to do that soon, I'm not sure. If there is a time-limit for reporting, then the risk here is the parties agree to not report (settle it themselves), and then a few weeks later he gets his repair bill/quote, and it turns out to be way more than what she was expecting, but she has lost the chance to get her insurance to pay it without going through the hoops of reporting it after the deadline.

Of course, if, as above, you only need to report a collision if it's more than $500, perhaps a claim from ignorance could be made - it looked like less than $500, but turned out to be a lot more. Ignore this last bit though, as I really don't know the local reporting requirements (if any).
posted by -harlequin- at 11:05 PM on July 26, 2006


As someone on the other side (Got in an accident when uninsured - it was never clear who was at fault) I can attest that in the state of CA you lose your license for a year for getting in an accident when uninsured. However if your GF was at fault in the accident she's still on the hook for any damages.

In my case it was handled as two separate issues. And you must also report the accident or you both can be in trouble.
posted by bitdamaged at 7:08 AM on July 27, 2006


I had this happen to my car (we were rear-ended) 4 days after I purchased it. The damage was minor, so we didn't call the cops. We exchanged phone numbers and personal information. When I took it to the dealer I found out that:

1) While not apparent, the damage was decent under the bumper, and it would cost around 800.00 (in Wisconsin, the police report threshold is 1000.00).

2) He didn't answer his phone. My wife went around to his place, and the neighbor said that no one by that name lives there.

...so basically, there's a guy out there in a used Ford Taurus with some pearl-white paint on his front bumper who unceremoniously reached into my pocket and stole 800.00.

The moral of my story? Get the police involved, right away. Don't pass Go.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:33 AM on July 27, 2006


The moral of my story? Get the police involved, right away. Don't pass Go.

Yea, but this is a different story: the girlfriend is at fault, not the uninsured driver. Plus, I doubt calling the cops after the fact will do any good- most won't respond unless you call from the scene (and sometimes, not even then, unless someone is hurt).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:42 AM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Insurance plus a lawyer.

The uninsured motorist? They could lawyer up, and sue for "damages".
posted by filmgeek at 7:55 AM on July 27, 2006


Plus, I doubt calling the cops after the fact will do any good- most won't respond unless you call from the scene (and sometimes, not even then, unless someone is hurt).

Untrue, at least according to my local department person-who-answered-the-phone. My only problem with filing a report was the threshhold on the damages. If it was going to be over 1000.00, they'd file the report up to 6 months after the accident.

I had to inquire because Geico, my insurance carrier, required a report on file with the police in order to file a claim without the other driver being present. So, I was SOL.
posted by thanotopsis at 7:57 AM on July 27, 2006


Whether or not the girlfriend is at fault depends on a lot of different factors (State and the particulars of the accident). Though the rear-ending driver is almost always found to be at fault, here are some examples of situations where the rear-ended vehicles driver may be partially or totally at fault.
posted by ducksauce at 8:03 AM on July 27, 2006



The moral of my story? Get the police involved, right away. Don't pass Go.


When I lost had an accident in Wisconsin (at least 5 years ago), They wouldn't come out to check out the accident as they believed the damage would be under the threshold. Then again, they also wouldn't come look at my car when it was hit and ran (and I'm pretty sure the car that did it was parked just up the street). It probably depends where you live though.
posted by drezdn at 8:13 AM on July 27, 2006


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