What to Do After a No-Fault Car Accident Without Insurance in New Jersey

Driving uninsured in New Jersey means you forfeit your right to claim damages, regardless of who’s at fault.
Written by Jasmine Kanter
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
It’s not a good idea to drive uninsured in
New Jersey
. Even if you're not at fault in a
car accident
, you forfeit your right to claim damages under the state's "No Pay, No Play" laws. You also leave yourself open to fines, community service, and license suspensions.
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What happens if you get into a car accident in New Jersey?

If you’ve been in a serious accident in New Jersey, you need to file a report with the police and the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission within 10 days.

New Jersey car accident laws

The first thing
to do after a car accident
is to make sure you and your passengers are safe. Get out of traffic (if possible) and call 911 if anyone is hurt. You might panic when you remember you don’t have insurance, but don't leave the scene!
New Jersey hit-and-run laws
, fleeing the scene of a car accident can be prosecuted both as a traffic violation and a criminal offense. Depending on the severity of the accident, you could be charged with a misdemeanor, a felony, or both. Even if you weren’t at fault, you could receive up to $150,000 in fines and 10 years in prison!
That’s the last thing you need, so stay put. Focus on documenting the crash as thoroughly as possible. Take photos, exchange contact info with any witnesses, and record your observations as soon as possible because memories fade fast. Last but not least, get the names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance company names, and policy numbers of the other driver(s) involved.
At this point, you may have to admit that you don’t have any insurance. There's nothing you can do about it now, so stay calm. Your next concern is reporting the crash.

Car accident reporting laws in New Jersey

If you've been involved in a car accident in New Jersey that caused injury, death, or more than $500 of property damage, it must be reported to the police. Unless a police officer was present at the scene, you must file a report yourself within 10 days. In this situation, having your own record of what happened, to whom, and when will be invaluable. 
Complete a
Motor Vehicle Accident Report (form SR-1)
. Send one copy to either your local, county, or state police office and one copy to the New Jersey Department of Transportation at:
1035 Parkway Avenue
PO Box 600
Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
Wait a minute—if the police don't know about the crash, and you don't have insurance, why should you file a report? Well, the other driver will probably file their own report, so there’s no point in hiding the truth. Plus, reporting your own experiences gives you more proof of the other driver's fault
And when insurance companies call, it's best to have as much proof as possible.

What happens if you don’t carry car insurance in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, you could face fines, imprisonment, or even jail time for driving without car insurance. Furthermore, you lose the right to file an insurance claim or sue for damages.

New Jersey car insurance laws

Car insurance is required by law in New Jersey. According to
Revised Statutes 39:6A-3 (2013)
, each driver must carry three types of car insurance:
Liability insurance covers damages to others after a car accident where you’re at fault. UM/UIM coverage, on the other hand, pays for your damages if the driver at fault doesn't have any liability insurance (or enough to cover your losses). Last but not least, PIP allows anyone to file a claim with their insurance company for medical expenses, regardless of fault, since NJ is a
no-fault state
A legally compliant policy has the following minimum coverage limits:
  • $15,000 of
    bodily injury liability
    coverage per person
  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
  • $5,000 of
    property damage liability
    coverage per accident
  • $25,000 of UM/UIM coverage per person
  • $50,000 of UM/UIM coverage per accident
  • $15,000 of PIP coverage per person or accident
With every insurance policy, you can select a limited or unlimited
right to sue
. A limited right to sue allows you to sue for damages only in cases of severe, permanent injuries, such as amputation, disfigurement, scarring, or death. As its name implies, an unlimited right to sue allows you to seek compensation for pain and suffering resulting from any injury.
If you're uninsured, your biggest risk is that you'll hit someone and have to pay for their damages. If you get hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you'll also be on the hook for your own medical bills and repair expenses. And that's before you consider the penalties for driving without insurance.

Penalties for driving without car insurance in New Jersey

If it’s your first time driving without car insurance, you’ll face a $300-$1,000 fine and community service. Your highway driving privileges may also be suspended for up to one year. For subsequent offenses, punishment escalates to a $5,000 fine, 14 days in jail, 30 days of community service, and two years of suspension from NJ's highways. You might also be required to provide an
SR-22 certificate
if you’re convicted of driving recklessly or under the influence
Even worse, uninsured drivers are prohibited from claiming damages under New Jersey's "No Pay, No Play" laws.

No Pay, No Play

New Jersey’s “No Pay, No Play” laws prevent anyone who drives an uninsured vehicle from recovering any
economic or noneconomic loss
sustained as a result of an accident”. In other words, uninsured drivers are prohibited from recovering the damages they suffer by any means.
For reference, economic losses have specific monetary costs. Medical bills, property damages, lost wages, and other items that are easy to add up are considered economic losses. By contrast, non-economic losses aren’t easy to calculate. Things such as pain and suffering, loss of company, and emotional distress are decided on a case-by-case basis.
You forfeit your right to file a claim or sue for either loss if you drive without insurance, regardless of how much insurance the other driver carries or how much fault they bear for causing the accident.

What if I’m underinsured?

If you carry car insurance but your minimum coverage limits don’t cover the other person’s total losses after an accident, you’re underinsured. It’s much better than being uninsured. Since you didn’t break any car insurance laws, you won’t suffer any legal penalties, and you retain your right to sue others involved in the accident if need be.
To recover damages, the other driver may start by filing an underinsured motorist insurance claim with their own provider. After their coverage limit is reached, they may decide to sue you for the remainder. Whether they receive payment or not is decided by a single, all-important question: “Who’s at fault?”
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What happens if you’re not at fault for a car accident in New Jersey?

“Fault” refers to the degree of negligence shown by a particular person. If you’re more than 50% “at fault” in a car accident, you bear the responsibility for paying for damages.

Who decides fault in a car accident in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the fault of everyone involved in a car accident is determined by one of two people. If an insurance claim is filed, the decision falls to an insurance company claims adjuster. If a lawsuit is brought to court, then it’s a judge who makes the call. Both authorities make their decision based on evidence, like photographs, police reports, driver statements, witness statements, and camera footage. Another reason why it pays to keep records!

What if you’re at fault?

Because New Jersey is a
modified comparative negligence state
, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you’re deemed more than 50% 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. 
Let's say you're more than 50% at fault in a car accident with another driver who suffered $1,000 in damages. You don’t have an insurance provider, so instead of
filing a car insurance claim
, the not-at-fault driver files a lawsuit. If the judge deems you 80% at fault, the other driver will receive $800. If you’re 60% at fault, it’ll be $600, and so on. 
Without insurance, you’re responsible for paying these damages on your own.

What if you’re not at fault?

If you're less than 50% at fault, you can breathe a sigh of relief because you're not liable for damages from the accident. Remember, however, that due to NJ's "No Pay, No Play" laws, uninsured drivers can’t file insurance claims or lawsuits. And even if you’re not at fault, you’re still on the hook for the penalties of driving without insurance.

What if an uninsured driver hits you in New Jersey?

You have very few options if—like you—the other driver involved in the accident doesn't have insurance. As uninsured drivers, neither of you has an insurance company with which to file a claim, and neither has the right to sue the other. Regardless of who’s at fault, you’ll each have to pay your own expenses out of pocket.

How to find cheap car insurance in New Jersey

The good news is that you don’t have to worry about the penalties for driving without car insurance in New Jersey or finding an affordable policy. With
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