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In a Car Accident in Seattle with No Insurance

Colburn Law

Any automobile accident has the potential to cause substantial damage to property, people, or both. As such, Washington law requires all drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance to help cover the costs of an accident. If you were in a crash recently, contact a car accident lawyer at Colburn Law today.

Not having insurance doesn’t just have legal penalties; it can also leave you in a precarious financial position if you are in an accident as the at-fault party. While Washington works on a pure comparative negligence policy, where shared fault reduces the percentage of compensation a party can claim in an accident, you may still face extensive costs if you are determined to be at fault in an accident.

Washington State Insurance Requirements

The minimum coverage requirements for Washington drivers are:

  • $25,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $50,000 for injury to more than one person
  • $10,000 for damage to property

Failure to meet these requirements, even if you have some coverage, will have the same penalties as driving without insurance.

Penalties for Driving with No Insurance in Washington State

Before you start to even factor in accident costs, Washington state has penalties for those who drive without insurance coverage. If you fail to produce proof of insurance, law enforcement can give you a ticket for an infraction. This comes with potential penalties of community restitution, fees, and a minimum fine of $450.

This applies even if you have coverage, but do not have proof of insurance on you, as law enforcement may assume you are driving uninsured. However, you may appeal your fine if you have insurance by presenting the court with proof of insurance at the time of the violation. If you do so before your court date, you will not have to pay your fine, though you will still be responsible for a $25 court-processing fee.

Providing false insurance information and driving without coverage are misdemeanors. If you fail to pay any required fines or do not arrange a payment plan, you risk having your driver’s license suspended.

Penalties for No Insurance in an Accident

The same penalties for not having car insurance apply if you are in an accident. If you are the at-fault party, you are responsible for paying any resulting collision damage. For accidents where the damage results in more than $1,000 worth of property damage or any level of personal injuries, you face license suspension if you do not provide proof of insurance at the scene.

The license suspension can last up to three years from the date of the collision. In addition, you will need to pay a $75 reinstatement fee.

Avoiding License Suspension

The license suspension may come into effect even if you had insurance at the time of the accident. You have sixty days from the time of the accident to provide the Washington Department of Licensing with proof of insurance in effect at the time of the collision. If you do so, you will not face license suspension.

However, if you did not have insurance at the time of the accident, you can still avoid license suspension if you provide the Washington Department of Licensing with one of the following:

  • A signed release from everyone in the collision stating they will not hold you responsible for damages
  • Proof that you have deposited security in the amount of damages from the collision through proof of financial responsibility or SR-22 insurance certificate
  • A copy of a written agreement with all parties seeking reimbursement for damages
  • A certified copy of a civil court decision stating you are not liable for claims

The timeframe for submitting these items is within the sixty days before the suspension goes into effect.

Driving without auto coverage has strict penalties in Washington state. If you are in an accident, you risk license suspension, paying for any damages, and other applicable fines. This can lead to great financial difficulties. If you face potential payments or suspension, you should consult with an attorney to learn your best course of action.