What to Do if You’re in a Car Accident Without Insurance but Not at Fault in Oregon

Getting behind the wheel with no insurance is a serious offense in Oregon, and can result in fines and the suspension of your driver’s license.
Written by Amber Reed
If you’re involved in a
car accident in Oregon
and you don’t have any insurance, there will be some pretty dire consequences. If you’re
not at fault
you might be able to file a claim for some of your damages, but you’ll still be looking at some severe penalties for driving uninsured in
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Oregon and not at fault

In Oregon, simply
driving without car insurance
is a Class B violation and carries serious consequences. If you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident while uninsured, then things can get even more sticky (and expensive).
First of all, remain at the scene of the accident. When your adrenaline is high you might be tempted to get out of there to avoid being caught driving uninsured, but trust us—that’s a bad idea. Leaving the scene of an accident (even if you weren’t at fault) is a serious offense, and hit and runs in Oregon come with heavy punishment. 
Here’s how the consequences for a hit-and-run break down: 
Result of accident
Legal classification
Prison time
Property damage
Class A misdemeanor
Up to one year
Minor injuries
Class C felony
Up to five years
Serious injuries/death
Class B felony
Up to ten years
So take a deep breath, keep calm, and stay at the scene. First, move the car to a safe area if you can. Make sure that you and everyone else are uninjured, and call 911 or give first aid as needed. Exchange information with the other drivers involved in the accident. 
Document the accident as thoroughly as you can—write things down while your memory is still fresh. Take pictures, and collect as much other evidence as possible. All of this will come in handy when it comes to proving that you weren’t at fault. 
If the other driver is insured and you weren’t at fault, then you’ll be able to file a claim with their insurance company for any damages to your car or resulting medical bills. If they’re uninsured too, then your only chance to recover damages would be to bring a personal injury lawsuit against them.
But there’s a catch: Oregon is one of a handful of states that has what’s called a “no pay, no play” rule. What this means is that if you don’t have any car insurance, you won’t be able to recover any non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or emotional distress. In addition, you’ll likely have to pay some money out of pocket before you can collect any damages at all. 

Who decides fault in a car accident in Oregon?

At the scene of an accident, law enforcement officials will be responsible for making a report and issuing tickets for any violations. However, they’re not the ones who ultimately decide who is at fault—the insurance companies are.
The best thing you can do if you weren’t to blame for the accident is to gather and provide as much evidence as you can to the insurance agency. Take pictures, talk to witnesses, and write down a thorough account of what happened as soon as you can.

Do you need to report a car accident in Oregon? 

Not always. In Oregon, you are required to notify the police of any accident that meets any of these criteria: 
  • Damage to any vehicle over $2,500 (even if your vehicle was the only one in the crash)
  • Damages to any vehicle over $2,500 and a vehicle is towed from the scene
  • Injury or death resulted from the accident
  • Damages to anyone’s property (other than a vehicle involved in the accident) of more than $2,500.
In addition, you must notify the Oregon DMV within 72 hours of an accident that meets any of these criteria. And remember: even if the police take a report, it’s still your responsibility to notify the DMV. 

What if you’re at fault?

If you were at fault in an accident while uninsured, then the consequences become even more severe. Oregon is a
modified comparative negligence
state, so you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s vehicle repairs and medical bills if you are deemed more than 50% negligent in the accident.
So, if you were found to be 70% at fault, then you would be responsible for 70% of the other driver’s damages. If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover damages. 

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

If the other driver doesn’t have insurance but you do, then what? In this scenario, you would be able to file a claim with your own insurance agency. Oregon is one of the states that requires all drivers to have
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
. So if you have a policy that meets
Oregon’s car insurance requirements
, then you’ll be protected from paying out of pocket for damages caused by an uninsured driver.
There are an alarming number of
drivers who are uninsured
these days, so even if you live somewhere where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage isn’t required, it’s still really smart coverage to have.
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Penalties for driving without insurance in Oregon

So even though you might be able to recover some of your damages if you weren’t at fault, there will still be some serious consequences for driving without insurance
In Oregon, getting caught driving without any car insurance carries a fine of between $130 and $1,000. But that’s just the beginning! Additionally, you’ll face an
automatic suspension of your driver’s license
for one year. In some cases, your registration can be suspended and your car can be towed and impounded as well. 
To top it off, you’ll be required to have an
SR-22 certificate
for a period of three years. SR-22 certificates are an official form of proof of financial responsibility that’s often required after you’ve been found to be driving uninsured. Having an SR-22 is not only a pain, but it also means that you’re going to have to pay a lot more for your car insurance for several years.
If you do actually have insurance but just don’t have the
on you, then you’ll probably be okay. In most situations, if you're able to show you were insured at the time of the accident you’ll be let off with just an administrative fine. 
But if you’re flat-out uninsured, you’re out of luck. You can’t buy a policy and have it backdated to before the accident, no matter what. 

Minimum required car insurance in Oregon

Driving without car insurance is not only a bad idea, but it’s also not worth the risk. So what’s required in Oregon? Let’s take a look: 
Unlike states that only require liability insurance, Oregon’s minimum requirements are fairly robust. But that’s not a bad thing! Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages to your car caused by an uninsured driver, and PIP helps to pay for your medical bills if you’re injured as a result of a car accident. 
One thing that is worth mentioning is that most experts recommend getting more than just the minimum required amount of coverage. Generally, it’s advisable to get bodily injury liability coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident along with $100,000 for property damage liability. 
The same recommendation applies to the underinsured motorist coverage—typically, most agents will suggest a limit of $100,000/$300,000. For PIP, it’s a good idea to get a limit of $25,000, as medical expenses can get really high really fast!
One area where Oregon doesn’t require coverage is in the areas of
policies. While the bulk of the mandatory coverage is geared towards protecting people, these policies will protect your car. Collision and comprehensive are definitely worth considering, but their necessity will vary depending on how much your car is worth. If you took out a loan to purchase your car, most lenders will require that you have this kind of
full coverage policy
Keep in mind that you don’t have to purchase extra coverage—but if you can swing it, it’s a smart move and will provide you with protection that you’ll be grateful to have if you ever need to use it. In most cases, expanding your coverage won’t cost as much as you think! 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

In addition to the fines, license suspension, and possible prison time, getting caught driving without insurance has one other long-lasting consequence: your
car insurance
will be much more expensive until enough time passes that the violation drops off your
Oregon driving record
This will take around three years, provided you don’t get caught a second time.
“Amazing! I’ll admit, I’m young with 2 accidents. This spiked my insurance rates and every quote I found.
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