Pursuant to New Jersey Statute 39:6B-1(a.) “Every owner or registered owner of a motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State shall maintain motor vehicle liability insurance coverage.”Driving without the mandated insurance coverage subjects the uninsured driver to serious financial penalties, causes automatic suspension of driving privileges, potential criminal ramifications and places them at serious risk of personal civil liability. In addition it also has some other unknown consequences that can be a severe penalty to the uninsured driver.
One generally unknown consequence of uninsured driving is its effect on potential civil personal injury claims of those drivers. Not only can uninsured drivers who cause accidents be sued personally for damages, but uninsured drivers who are actually not the cause of the accident are also subject to consequences. Pursuant to New Jersey Statute 39:6A-4.5(a.) “Any person who, at the time of an automobile accident resulting in injuries to that person, is required but fails to maintain the required insurance coverage, shall have no cause of action for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of an accident while operating an uninsured automobile.”
The effect of this law is that even if you are not responsible for an accident but are proven to be the owner of and driving an uninsured auto at the time, you are barred from pursuing a claim for any injuries or damages you may have suffered during the accident. It also prohibits you from making a claim for medical expense benefits under any auto insurance policy as well. As an example, if you are driving your uninsured car and stopped at a red light and another driver smashes into your rear causing you serious injury, you would have no legal recourse against that negligent driver. In many cases this law prohibits what would otherwise have been a valid and significant civil damages claim against the other driver.
The mandatory automobile insurance law is designed not only to provide protections and coverage for others who you may negligently injure but also for your own protection.
Don’t risk others and more importantly yourself by ever operating an uninsured vehicle. Not only do uninsured drivers put themselves at risk of being personally liable to others they may injure but also place themselves in a situation where they are no longer afforded civil law protection from the negligent actions of others.
Mike Foster is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Foster.