What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident Without Insurance But Not At Fault In Massachusetts

Driving without insurance is illegal in Massachusetts—so what happens if you get into an accident without coverage? Find out (and make a plan) here.
Written by Bonnie Stinson
Reviewed by Shannon Martin
If you’re in a car accident without insurance in
, you could face penalties like a temporary
license suspension
, a fine, or even jail time, whether you were at fault or not. Massachusetts is a
no-fault state
, so drivers are supposed to file against their own policy first—but if you don’t have one, you may be able to file against the other driver’s. 
Car accidents are stressful for all parties. From physical injuries and emotional trauma to vehicular damage, you may need support in the aftermath of a crash.
Car insurance
can help, but what if you don’t have coverage? What if the other driver doesn’t have coverage?
Here’s what you need to know about getting into a car accident without insurance in Massachusetts, from what to do immediately after the crash to your options for recovering damages. This guide is produced by
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trusted car insurance broker app
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Massachusetts and not at fault

Under Massachusetts state law, driving without the
minimum required car insurance coverage
is illegal. This mandatory coverage includes
uninsured motorist coverage
personal injury protection (PIP)
. So if you get into an accident without insurance, you could face legal and financial problems—even if you were not at fault. 
We know this can be a stressful situation! But try to remain calm. Here’s what you need to do if you get into a car accident without insurance in Massachusetts. 
Step 1: Do not flee the scene. There are severe consequences for a
hit-and-run in Massachusetts
. Therefore, it’s best to stay at the scene of the accident, even if you don’t have insurance. 
Here are some of the consequences you could face if you flee the scene:
  • Charged with a misdemeanor (if the accident only caused property damage)
  • Charged with a felony (if the accident caused injury or death)
  • Fine between $100 and $5,000
  • License suspension or revocation
If you were hit, do not attempt to follow the person or vehicle that hit you. Stay with your vehicle.
Step 2: Make sure all involved parties are safe. Once the vehicle is in a safe place, take a moment to check the physical health of everyone involved. This includes yourself, your passengers, the other driver, and anyone else involved. Call 911 promptly if anyone needs medical attention.
Step 3: Gather evidence. Take pictures of the scene to document damaged vehicles and property. Capture information about the area, including the street signs and marks on the pavement, and ask bystanders for their contact information to provide a witness account. 
Step 4: Get the other driver’s information. Ask them for their name, contact information,
driver’s license
number, and insurance information. You should also provide your information, even if you don’t have insurance. 
Massachusetts is a no-fault state. This means that you are supposed to
file claims
for medical payments against your own policy first. You can only file against someone else’s policy if your damages exceed a certain threshold ($2,000 in medical bills or serious disfigurement). If you don’t have insurance, you may be able to file against their policy to cover your damages.
If neither you nor the other driver has insurance and they are at fault, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against them to pay for your repairs and medical bills.

Who decides fault in a car accident in Massachusetts?

The insurance company makes the final decision about who is at fault in a car accident. Claims adjusters may use information from police reports (when available) and other evidence submitted by the drivers to determine liability
It’s a complicated—and sometimes lengthy—process to figure out who caused an accident. So if you get into a car accident without insurance and you’re not at fault in Massachusetts, you should provide as much documentation as possible to help prove that the other driver caused the accident.  

Do you need to report a car accident in Massachusetts? 

If the accident meets certain criteria, you must
report the car accident
in Massachusetts based on
state car accident laws
  • Someone was injured
  • Someone was killed
  • Damage to any one vehicle or other property exceeds $1,000
In this situation, you should file a
Motor Vehicle Crash Operator Report
within five days of the incident. This form must be sent to three places:
  • The local police department where the crash occurred
  • Your insurance company (if you have insurance)
  • Crash Records, Registry of Motor Vehicles, P.O. Box 55889, Boston, MA, 02205-5889
Not only is the crash report mandatory, but it’s also your best chance to recover damages if you got into an accident without insurance. 
MORE: How to file a car accident claim report

What if you’re at fault?

If you cause an accident in Massachusetts while uninsured, you will face two types of consequences
First, you may be fined, your license may be suspended, and you could face jail time. Between the state fines and paying transportation before you can
reinstate your license
, the penalties can add up fast! 
Secondly, you may be responsible for paying for repairs and medical bills if you caused property damage or injury to another driver.
Because Massachusetts is a modified
comparative negligence
state, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you are deemed 51% negligent for the accident. If you do not have car insurance, the not-at-fault driver may file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages. 
In other words, you cannot collect any damages from the other driver in Massachusetts if you were 51% or more at fault. If you were less than 51% at fault, then you can collect damages minus the percentage of fault. 

What if you’re hit by an uninsured driver in Massachusetts?

There’s one more possibility, and that’s if you got hit by an uninsured driver, but you had insurance.
Because Massachusetts is a no-fault state, you should file against your own policy first. Your PIP and
uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UIM)
will pay for the medical expenses for your and your passengers. 
You can sue the other driver for additional damages if your bills exceed $2,000 or if you suffered permanent injury
Massachusetts requires all drivers to carry PIP and UIM in case of this exact situation. 
According to the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
, about 3.5% of Massachusetts drivers had insufficient coverage in 2019. Make sure you have the right coverage to protect yourself!
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Penalties for driving without insurance in Massachusetts

You will face penalties if you’re caught
driving without insurance
in Massachusetts. For a first offense, you may experience the following:
  • $500 fine 
  • 60 day license suspension
  • $500 reinstatement feel
  • Possible one year in jail 
  • State may require a
    Massachusetts SR-22 filing
If you’re caught for a second time, you could pay a fine of up to $5,000. You could lose your license for one year, plus you’ll have to pay the $500 reinstatement fee. Jail time is even more likely.
There’s no escaping these penalties and buying an insurance policy after the fact won’t help. The only way to avoid these consequences is to provide that you did have coverage at the time of the accident but unlike other states, the name of your insurance provider is stamped on your
vehicle registration
. So unless there has been some kind of mixup at the DMV, the policy and state are aware that you do not have insurance. 

Minimum required car insurance in Massachusetts

All but two states require drivers to have car insurance. Each state has its own specific level of minimum coverage. In Massachusetts, here’s the minimum coverage that all drivers should carry to be legally compliant: 
These are the bare minimum coverage levels in Massachusetts. But if you consider the price of a new car—or the cost of treating a very serious injury—it’s clear that higher coverage limits might be wise
You’ll be legally compliant with the above policy limits. But experts recommend that drivers carry at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and $100,000 in property damage liability. You should also consider
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
, which protects your car
The cost of all this coverage might be lower than you expect. (Hint: the
app can help you find low prices fast!)

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

On top of the legal and financial consequences of being caught driving without insurance, once a driver is caught driving without insurance, they are classified as high-risk.
High-risk drivers
are charged much higher rates for car insurance coverage—even the minimum coverage. You could be stuck paying this high rate for years.

How to find cheap car insurance in Massachusetts

Insurance is one of those unavoidable expenses—but who says you have to pay top dollar?
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