Liability auto insurance is a legal requirement for drivers in all 50 states. It is an assurance that a driver has the financial ability to pay for a car accident. Operating a motor vehicle without the required amounts of insurance in Texas is against the law. If you get into a car accident without insurance, you could find yourself in legal and financial trouble – even if you were unaware that your insurance coverage had lapsed.
The most common consequence of getting into a car accident without insurance is receiving a traffic ticket and having to pay a fine. A police officer will cite you for unlawfully operating a motor vehicle without the required liability insurance at the scene of the crash. If this is your first offense, the fine in Texas is around $350. If this is not your first offense, the fines can increase to a maximum of $1,000.
You are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle until you purchase at least the minimum required amount of car insurance. In Texas, the minimum requirements are currently $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance, plus $25,000 in property damage coverage. You must show the Department of Motor Vehicles proof that you have purchased the required insurance to regain your driving privileges.
If this is not the first time that you have received a traffic ticket for driving with no insurance, the state also has the right to suspend your driver’s license. The suspension could last as long as two years as part of your sentence. Although you may qualify for a hardship license to continue driving to necessary places, such as your job, a suspended license otherwise means that you cannot operate a motor vehicle.
According to Texas Transportation Code Chapter 708, driving without insurance authorizes the state to charge you additional administrative fees on top of the base fine. These additional fees can add a maximum of $250 per year in surcharges to the fees that you must pay to renew your driver’s license in the three years following the ticket for driving without insurance.
Getting a ticket for driving without insurance can lead to increased insurance rates when you do purchase a policy. In many cases, when you apply for coverage, having the offense on your driving record will cause the price of the auto liability policy to increase.
Texas is a fault-based car accident state, meaning the driver or party at fault for causing the crash is financially responsible (liable) for paying for related medical bills and property repairs. Having a car insurance policy saves you from having to pay for a car accident out of your own pocket. You could face a personal injury lawsuit brought against you by the accident victim(s) if you don’t have insurance.
If the victim wins the lawsuit, the courts have the right to force you to pay for the crash, even if this means liquidating your assets or garnishing your wages. Even if you were not at fault for the car accident, you could encounter issues with crash recovery if you don’t have insurance. The other driver’s insurance carrier could use this against you to reduce your payout, depending on the circumstances.
It is important to obey Texas’s insurance laws by purchasing and maintaining an adequate amount of motor vehicle insurance as a vehicle owner and operator. Getting into a car accident without insurance can have many negative consequences and lead to thousands of dollars in costs coming out of your pocket. If you get into this situation, contact a car accident lawyer in Dallas for information about your legal options.