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

If you are in an accident in Pennsylvania but have no insurance, you have two options. Read on to find out more.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
background
If you’re caught driving without
car insurance
in
Pennsylvania
, you’ll face various penalties, including fines and a temporary loss of
registration
. If you end up in an
accident
—and you’re not at fault—you have two options: filing a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance, or filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In Pennsylvania, all drivers must carry specified levels of bodily injury and property liability insurance. This is to help ensure that you’re financially liable if you cause an accident. But what if someone else collides with you, and you’re not at fault?
We're here with a guide to car accidents without insurance in California. We’ll go over what your options are for claiming damages, discuss the potential penalties you’ll face for driving without insurance, and show you how to secure cheap Pennsylvania car insurance so you can avoid all the hassle.
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Pennsylvania and not at fault

First things first: Driving without car insurance in the state of Pennsylvania is illegal. If you’re in an accident while you lack insurance, it could compound your expenses and put you in a sticky legal situation. Here are the best steps to take if you get into an accident while uninsured. 
First, never leave the scene of the crash. It will be tempting to hightail it out of there so you can avoid revealing that you lack auto coverage, but leaving the scene of an accident is actually a more serious offense, regardless of your insurance coverage, and regardless of who is at fault. Here are the penalties for leaving the scene of a crash.
  • If the accident only resulted in property damage and you fled the scene, you could be convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor and face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. 
  • If the accident resulted in injuries, you could be convicted of a third-degree felony and face 90 days to seven years in jail, plus a minimum $1,000 fine.
  • If the accident resulted in death, you could be convicted of a second-degree felony and face three to seven years in prison, and a minimum $2,500 fine
  • You also risk losing your license temporarily or permanently in any case.
In short—stay at the scene no matter what, and do your best to stay calm. Pull over when and where it’s safe to do so, and check yourself, your passengers, and anyone else involved for potential injuries. Call 9-1-1 if necessary, and exchange your information, including your driver’s license number, with the other driver.
Take photos of the accident, and collect any other relevant evidence to help show that you weren’t at fault.
If it is determined that you were not at fault and the other driver has insurance, you’ll be able to file a third-party claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for any vehicle repairs or medical bills that are required as a result of the crash—even if you lack insurance yourself. If the other driver lacks insurance (or doesn’t have enough insurance), you’ll have to file a personal injury lawsuit for economic damages like repairs and medical expenses. 

Who decides fault in a car accident in Pennsylvania?

If the accident is particularly serious, the police will likely get involved. The officer will survey the scene, interview the drivers, and file an accident report. This report will help the insurance company determine who is at fault for the accident.
If the police do not arrive, the insurance company (or companies) will contact each driver to interview them regarding what happened and determine fault without a police report.
Thus, if you are not at fault in an accident while uninsured, it is important to provide evidence of the other driver’s negligence in your claim with their insurance company. Photographs and videos tend to be very helpful to argue that you are not financially responsible fo the other driver’s expenses. 

Do you need to report a car accident in Pennsylvania? 

Not always. You must report an accident if it involves any of the following:
  • The injury or death of anyone involved in the accident, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or bystanders.
  • Damage to either vehicle makes it impossible to drive away from the scene, requiring towing.
  • Accidents involving school buses, even if no children are present at the time of the crash.
  • Damage to any property maintained by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot) such as traffic signs and guide rails. 
This means that you are not required to file a police report for, say, a minor fender bender. If you accidentally back into another car in a parking lot and cause a small dent, you and the other driver can sort the situation out yourselves without involving law enforcement. 
MORE: Pennsylvania reckless driving

What if you’re at fault?

If you cause an accident while you’re uninsured, the consequences are far more serious. Because Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you are deemed a state-specific percentage negligent for the accident. If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages. 
As mentioned above, you’ll also face serious legal penalties, including various fines and potential jail time. Additionally, your license and registration could be suspended, and your vehicle could be impounded. 

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

If the other driver involved in the accident lacks auto coverage, you’ll have to pursue them directly for damages—often via a lawsuit. Unfortunately, this could be an expensive, time-consuming, and thankless process.
Instead, when building your car insurance policy, you should opt for uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage, which are commonly referred to as UMC/UIM. These optional types of coverage will pay for your medical expenses if you are hit by an uninsured driver or a driver who lacks enough
bodily injury liability
to cover your medical costs. 
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) can also be added to your policy. It will help pay for any necessary repairs to your vehicle if the at-fault driver is identified as being uninsured. 
Finally,
medical payments (MedPay)
coverage will pay for any hospital bills you accrue, within your policy limits, while
collision coverage
will help cover vehicle repairs. These types of coverage are optional and do raise your monthly premium, but can help you save lots of money and hassle in the long run. 
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), about 6.0% of Pennsylvania drivers lack auto insurance, an important statistic to take into account when building your car insurance policy. 

Penalties for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania 

As we mentioned above, you can file a third-party claim with the at-fault party’s insurance, and/or file a personal injury lawsuit to cover the damages after an accident where you’re not at fault but don’t have insurance.
However, it’s important to remember that you’ll still face legal penalties for lacking auto coverage. If caught without insurance, you may have to surrender your driver's license and vehicle registration and then pay fees to get them back. Note that while your driving privileges are suspended, no one else can drive your vehicle as it will not be registered.
If you're caught driving without insurance and it's your first offense, you’ll owe a fine of $300. The state will also suspend your registration and driver's license for three months. Your vehicle might also be impounded. To restore your driving privileges, you'll pay a $94 fee for your vehicle registration and another fee (around $100) to reinstate your driver's license.
The penalties for driving without insurance will increase if you are caught more than once. 
If you know your insurance is going to lapse, it is best to surrender your registration immediately to the DMV to avoid any penalties. 
If your coverage lapses for fewer than 31 days and you’re caught, you may choose to pay a one-time $500 civil penalty and waive the registration suspension. You'll need to send proof of current coverage to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, show you didn't drive the car while your policy lapsed, and file a MV-221 form to avoid restoration fees.
This option is only available once every 12 months. So if you're caught driving without insurance again within that year, you'll have to surrender your driving privileges.
MORE: The penalties for using fake proof of insurance

Minimum required car insurance in Pennsylvania 

So what type of insurance do you need to ensure you’re never in any legal trouble? Per Pennsylvania state law, all drivers must carry proof of the following insurance: 
Keep in mind that these minimum liability insurances might not cover the full cost of damage in a severe accident, which is why most experts recommend purchasing higher amounts of liability insurance than you’re legally required to.
It’s also important to note that liability insurance only covers the damage that occurs to other drivers and property in the event of an at-fault accident. You’ll need to invest in
comprehensive coverage
to protect yourself and your car. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Here’s just one more reason to never drive without car insurance:
If you’re caught driving without it
, you’ll end up paying more for an insurance policy afterward. The violations you accrue as a result of getting caught without insurance all go on your driving record—an important tool that insurers use to price out your premiums.

How to find cheap car insurance in Pennsylvania 

Now that you understand just how important it is to invest in at least the minimum liability insurance required by the state of Pennsylvania, let’s talk about how you can save some money! 
All you have to do is download
Jerry
—a licensed insurance broker that can analyze your profile and compare quotes for over 55 top-rated insurance providers in just 45 seconds. We’ll show you all the cheapest options and handle the paperwork to sign you up. Sign-up is totally free, and Jerry users save a whopping $800+ per year on auto insurance, on average. 
“My past tickets were making it hard to find affordable insurance. With
Jerry
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