If you’re worried about what would happen if you get into a car accident without auto insurance, you’re not alone. An estimated one in seven drivers is in the same situation. Every state but New Hampshire requires auto insurance to pay for injuries and property damage resulting from accidents that you have caused. But what happens when you’re in an accident without auto insurance coverage?

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You Can’t Provide Proof of Insurance

Most states require drivers to carry proof of their auto insurance coverage at all times. In fact, you can be hit with a fine for not carrying this paperwork even if you have valid auto insurance. If you’re caught driving without auto insurance, even if you’re not in an accident, you can be hit with a fine. In Texas, it is several hundred dollars. In Minnesota, the same offense could result in a thousand dollar fine plus jail time. Fortunately, if you have insurance but don’t have proof at the time of the accident, you could get the citation for failure to have proof of insurance dismissed when you come to court. This is always less severe than the penalties for not having auto insurance at all.

Penalties for driving without insurance depend on the state you’re in. The penalties can include fines, loss of your driver’s license and car registration and jail time. If your license happens to be revoked and you’re living in Chicago, then it would be wise to consult with an insurance suspension lawyer in Chicago to know what you can do.

Damages Are Assessed and Paid

If you caused the accident, you have to pay for all of the damage to your own vehicle. This is true whether you hit a light pole or another vehicle. And when you’re at-fault, you’re liable for the damages to others’ vehicles and all other damages.

If you are considered at fault for the accident, passengers along with the driver of the other car can go after your assets to get their compensation. Depending on where you live, this could include your savings, your future earnings and your home. If you live in a no-fault insurance state, drivers make claims against their own insurance company for matter injuries regardless of who caused the crash. This means the other parties may not be able to sue you unless the medical bills hit a certain threshold. The threshold, though, varies from state to state.

If you’re in an accident but you’re not at fault, you can collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance. If another uninsured driver hit you, you’ll have to sue them for compensation. Your compensation may be limited, though, since at least twenty states have laws to limit the damages an uninsured driver can seek. For example, these laws may prevent you from collecting money for pain and suffering. In “no pay, no play” jurisdictions, you may have to pay a hefty deductible before you can sue for damages to your property.

Auto insurance is there to protect everyone in case of an accident. It pays the medical bills, the costs of car repairs and other damages those in an accident can claim. If you don’t have auto insurance, the process of settling the case becomes more complicated and costly.