Recently, a reader emailed us with a question. “I was rear-ended at a red light. I just bought the car, so I don’t have car insurance yet. Can I still get paid?” This is a great question! The answer depends on just two things: Does the other driver have insurance, and what state was your accident in?
Generally, The Driver Who Rear-Ended You Is At Fault
It’s incredibly hard to prove that you are at fault for a rear-end car collision if another car hits you from behind. In fact, it’s the most common car accident that happens to people on the road. For example: In 2017, someone got rear-ended in 29% of all crashes that year. In almost no situation would you ever be at fault, so then the question becomes: Who pays your repair bills? Nearly every state requires that you carry car insurance by law. However, many car insurance providers also automatically extend coverage to your newly purchased vehicle for up to four days. If it’s your very first vehicle with no insurance, it’s unusual to leave the dealership without coverage.
In any case, the person who rear-ended you should have car insurance, and that policy would cover your damages. But what if the other driver’s also uninsured? That’s when things get a little trickier.
Why the State You Crashed In Matters
When it comes to driving accidents, knowing whether you’re in an at-fault or no-fault state does matter. (Check the list of 12 no-fault states here and look for yours.) Rear-ended in an at-fault state? That’s the best possible outcome. You can file an insurance claim to recoup your damages. But because you yourself drove without car insurance, you may not be able to sue the driver who rear-ended you. These states have “no pay, no play” laws. These laws limit how much money uninsured drivers like you can claim in a cash settlement:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
And yes, even though another driver rear-ended you, those laws still apply to your case. That’s because you’re the one who doesn’t have insurance.
For example: In Michigan, if you have whiplash after being rear-ended and don’t have insurance, you cannot win any damages. In Alaska, you can only win damages for pain and suffering if an insured drunk driver rear-ends you. As you can imagine, this is a pretty complex subject and there’s no blanket answer that applies to everyone. You can also get a free, no-obligation consultation with a local attorney. It won’t cost you anything, and you can get specific answers that apply to your car accident questions. You don’t even have to meet up at an office somewhere in person. Instead, the lawyer will call you so you can discuss your case on the phone.
Related: How Much Is My Back Pain & Whiplash Injury Claim Worth?