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

West Virginia is an at-fault state, meaning that the driver who is found to have caused the crash is responsible for paying damages.
Written by Zachary Morgan
Reviewed by Hillary Kobayashi
If you’re involved in an auto accident in the state of West Virginia and you don’t have insurance, your problems are only just beginning. If the accident wasn’t your fault, you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company to get some of your damages covered—but you’ll probably still get in trouble for driving without insurance.
There’s nothing that can put a damper on your spirits faster than a car accident, and that’s before all the wrangling between insurance companies starts. Fortunately, esteemed
car insurance
comparison app
whipped up this little guide to car accidents without insurance in the Mountaineer State. 
We’ll discuss your options for filing a claim, go over some of the penalties you might face for driving without insurance, and even tell you how to find affordable
West Virginia car insurance
to better protect you from future incidents!

What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in West Virginia and not at fault

Driving with no insurance is illegal in West Virginia. Getting into a car accident with no insurance is a quick and easy way to land yourself in a pickle legally—and that’s before you factor in any property damage or personal injury. Let’s go over what you should do if you’re involved in a car accident in West Virginia and you don’t have insurance.
First and foremost, do not leave the scene of the accident! It might be tempting to hide the fact that you have no insurance by fleeing, but this could actually get you in way more trouble than staying.
No matter who is at-fault, leaving the scene of an accident carries serious penalties, including:
  • A $100 fine and up to 10 days in jail if the accident caused property damage
  • A $1,000 fine and up to one year in jail if the accident caused injuries, increased to $2,500, a felony charge, and three to five years for serious injuries
  • A
    felony hit-and-run charge in West Virginia
    , $5,000 fine, and up to five years in prison if the accident caused a fatality
So, if you get into an accident and you have no insurance, the key is to stay calm and remain on the scene. When you get a safe opportunity, pull over and do a wellness check on yourself, your passengers, your vehicle, and anyone or anything else that might have been involved in the accident, then call 911. 
Make sure you exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver, including your driver's license numbers. Furthermore, remember to document and photograph the accident extensively—you’ll be doing yourself a favor when it comes time to show you were not at fault.
If the accident wasn’t your fault and the other driver does have insurance, you can file a claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company. They should cover the cost of any medical bills or damage to your vehicle that you might have, even though you don’t have any insurance of your own. 
If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them in order to recover economic damages, like repair costs, doctor’s bills, and lost wages.
West Virginia is a state that allows you to pursue noneconomic damages as well. If you’re seriously injured as a result of an accident that was another person’s fault, you are able to file a suit for the following:
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish 
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement or mutilation
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Cognitive impairment 

Who decides fault in a car accident in West Virginia?

When the police arrive at the scene of the accident, they’ll make an official report that the involved insurance companies will use to help determine who was responsible. At the end of the day, though, the insurance providers have the final say over who was at fault in an accident, regardless of what the police report says.
If you’re uninsured and found not to be at-fault, you need to collect evidence that proves that the other driver was at-fault. If you can, take out your phone and photograph the scene of the accident extensively, paying close attention to the damages on both your and the other driver’s vehicle. Odds are, these photos will really come in handy when it’s time to prove that the accident wasn’t your fault.
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Do you need to report a car accident in West Virginia? 

Not necessarily. In West Virginia, you’re only legally required to inform the police if someone is injured or there is a minimum of $1,000 in property damages—but leaving the scene is still a crime.
If the accident does cause injuries or more than $1,000 in damage, you should report it to the police immediately. Officers will interview all of the parties involved within 24 hours and should submit a report within 10 days. Lastly, if the accident caused more than $500 worth of damage and/or led to anyone being injured, you will also have to report it to the DMV.

What if you’re at fault?

If you don’t have insurance and are found to be at fault, your situation will become very sticky very fast. 
West Virginia is a partial/modified comparative negligence state
, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages—so if you’re found to have been 20% at fault, then you’ll pay 20% of the damages. 
In addition, you will only be able to collect damages as long as your own proportion of fault does not equal or exceed 50% responsibility. If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover these damages. 
If you get caught with no insurance after a collision, you could face a wide range of penalties, including fines up to $5,000, a 90-day license suspension, and as much as a year in jail.

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

So what if the other guy doesn’t have insurance, but you do? If you can prove in a court case that the uninsured driver was at fault, you can try to recoup your damages with a civil suit—but this will probably turn into a drawn-out and tiresome affair.
Conversely, there are some extra insurance protections that are able to cover your expenses more quickly and efficiently. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage (UMC/UIM) is a legal requirement for all drivers in West Virginia. UMC/UIM coverage is great to have on your policy because it ensures that your medical expenses will be paid for if you’re struck by an uninsured driver, or by someone who doesn’t have enough
bodily injury liability
to fully cover your medical bills. 
If you’re interested in other coverages, you might want to consider adding
medical payments (MedPay)
coverage to your policy. It’s not a legal requirement, but this optional coverage can pay your hospital bills up to the policy limits of your personal car insurance plan. 
If your policy includes
collision coverage
, you’ll be able to file a claim with your insurance company for vehicle repairs. 
The Insurance Information Institute (III) estimates that roughly 9.2% of West Virginia drivers were uninsured in 2019—meaning that your chances of getting into an accident with an uninsured motorist are roughly one in ten. Looking at those numbers, you can see that UMC/UIM and collision coverage are well worth adding to your policy.
MORE: Everything you need to know about West Virginia’s texting and driving laws
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Penalties for driving without insurance in West Virginia

You might be able to recoup some damages after a car accident if you weren’t at fault, but driving with no insurance is a serious matter in West Virginia.
For a first offense, your license and registration will be revoked and confiscated for 30 days and you will receive a $200 fine. If you want your documents back, you’ll have to follow these steps:
  • Purchase West Virginia state minimum car insurance coverage
  • Provide proof of coverage
  • Pay the $100 registration reinstatement fee and $50 license reinstatement fee
For repeat offenses, the penalties follow more or less the same pattern, albeit with more severe consequences—like losing your license and registration for up to 90 days and paying up to $5,000 in fines.
Since driving without insurance is a misdemeanor, you could serve anywhere from 15 days to a year in jail, whether or not you’re a repeat offender! Luckily, though, jail time is very rare in these instances.
If you’re convicted of driving without insurance, there’s nothing else to do except bite the bullet—you can’t purchase insurance after the fact and try to apply it retroactively. 
However, there is an exception if you did have insurance at the time of the accident, but you didn’t have your proof of insurance with you. If you send your proof of insurance to the DMV within the 30-day grace period after the accident, all you have to do is pay a $200 fine and you can keep your license and registration.
MORE: The penalties for using fake proof of insurance

Minimum required car insurance in West Virginia

So what is the minimum amount of insurance that you need to carry in West Virginia to avoid these legal repercussions? Per state law, every driver must have a policy that includes:
Of course, these protections represent the minimum amount of coverage you need to drive legally, and they probably won’t fully cover anything aside from smaller accidents. 
Most experts recommend purchasing increased protection for your policy—$100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $100,000 for property damage liability. These extended coverages will protect you from most accidents, and are surprisingly affordable.

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

A final note on carrying minimum liability insurance:
if you’re caught driving without it
, you’ll have to pay more to insure your vehicle after the fact. Traffic violations and collisions on your driving record can make your premium pretty expensive—and it will stay that way as long as the points are on your record.

How to find cheap car insurance in West Virginia

Sure, meeting West Virginia’s minimum insurance requirements costs a little bit of money, but it’s much more expensive if you get caught driving without it.
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