Do Uninsured Drivers Retain Any Rights When Hurt by a Negligent Driver?
Sometimes a person who is driving without insurance is hurt in a
car accident. What happens then? Many people believe that if they are driving without
insurance any rights they may have are automatically taken away, but that's
not accurate, at least not in many states, including Oregon.
Angel Law, P.C. we do not in any way advocate driving without insurance. Ever. In fact,
we strongly recommend purchasing more coverage than the minimum amount
required by law. Even in our tough economic times, driving without insurance
is not an option. If you find yourself unable to afford the minimum coverage
required by law, you should find alternative ways to commute, like car
pooling with a friend or using public transportation.
Still, sometimes an uninsured motorist is hurt in an accident that he or
she did not cause. In the event of a car accident or
motorcycle accident in Oregon, who pays in the end depends on fault. The person that
caused the car accident is responsible for compensating anyone who was harmed.
Even if you did not have mandatory insurance, you may still be able to
recover for your losses if you were not at fault in causing the car accident.
Some people don't agree that this is fair. They feel that if you drove
uninsured you should have no right to compensation. But many people understand
that in a situation like this there are two parties who have made mistakes,
the person driving uninsured
and the person who caused the car accident. Oregon law holds both parties
accountable for the specific mistake each made.
An uninsured motorist involved in an accident may be cited by police, will
likely be fined for driving uninsured and will almost certainly have his
driving privileges suspended. Those consequences are intended to deter
and punish uninsured driving. But, in most cases, the at-fault driver
will still have to compensate those he harms, even if the person harmed
is uninsured. The question is usually how much compensation is an uninsured
driver entitled to claim? Typically, a negligent driver must pay the other
driver to repair the damage to his or her car, for medical bills, for
lost wages from any missed work or even sick days used, for other reasonable
an amount for pain and suffering. But in Oregon, often an
uninsured driver is not entitled to recover money for pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering is a phrase that means many different things to many
people. Most agree that it describes harm that someone suffers that is
not readily quantified, that is, it's hard to measure. Pain and suffering
may include many things like: actually experiencing pain in your body,
the pain of broken bones and headaches, not being able to sleep, not being
able to pick up your three year old child who wants to be held, the fear
and anxiety of undergoing surgery, the inconvenience and pain of rehabilitation,
the stress and worry of missing work, the disappointment of not being
able to run or bike or garden or any other thing a person may have done
for enjoyment. Typically when someone else's negligence has caused
you harm, the law allows you to recover
both your economic damages, like medical bills or car repairs and your non-economic
damages like pain, inconvenience and the loss of enjoying your normal
So, in Oregon, even if a driver was not insured at the time of a car accident,
he or she can still be compensated for medical bills, car repairs, and
lost wages if the other driver was at fault. However, the uninsured driver
is generally not allowed to ask for
pain and suffering compensation even if they didn't cause the car accident they were
in. This is a significant penalty because many times an injured person
recovers as much for pain and suffering as they do for medical bills and
lost wages. But there are important exceptions to the rule against uninsured
drivers recovering for pain and suffering. ORS 31.715 lays out several
exceptions that drivers should be aware of; they include when the at-fault
driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or
driving recklessly. Uninsured drivers may also claim their full damages
against an at-fault driver if they were covered by an insurance policy
in Oregon within 6 months of the car accident
and had not driven uninsured for a year prior to the policy lapsing.
It's important to remember that even if you were driving without insurance
and were injured in a car accident that you didn't cause, you may
still have a claim to recover for harm you suffered. You are entitled
to demand the at-fault driver, or his insurance company, pay for your
medical bills, and lost wages. And if the other driver was driving under
the influence or driving recklessly you may also be entitled to be compensated
for your pain suffered. If you have questions about your particular situation,
contact a Portland car accident attorney
at Angel Law PC.