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Small car accident, no insurance?

Long Beach, CA |

Situation:
There are 2 lanes, I am in the left lane. The lane does not move because someone is yielding for a left turn. I decide to merge into the right lane, because traffic along the lane is moving steadily. I signal right, and wait for cars to pass me. I see an opportunity to safely merge into the right lane (light traffic), and I go for it; however, as I merged, I scratched my front-right bumper and front mount (in a truck), onto their van. We both pulled over and exchanged information, but I did not tell him I was uninsured;I said I couldn't find it (nervous).

Details:
I am 18 years old. There were 4 passengers in my car during the time of the accident, including myself. No bodily injuries in either party; I scratched his van no more than 5 MPH. I forgot to take pictures. Help?

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Attorney answers 5

Posted

It isn't clear to me what happened. Where did the van come from? Do you think you were at fault, or do they? If so, you are most likely going to hear from the van owner or his insurance company, demanding payment for the cost of repairs to the van. You can work something out with them, or face a possible lawsuit against you. Depending on how much they demand, you may want to consult with a lawyer who can advise you on the best way to get out of this debt as cheaply as possible.

Asker

Posted

The van was in the right lane, going forward toward the stoplight. I merged too early, and I scratched it. I know I am at fault, I will not dispute that; however, because I (was stupid) and didn't take pictures or get much information, will that affect my case?

David Lee Fiol

David Lee Fiol

Posted

It would have been good to take pictures in case they try to claim more damage to their van than actually occurred in the accident (in other words some people try to get compensated for damage that was there already). However I would not worry about this too much. You have lots of witnesses and hopefully the other driver will be honest and straightforward. If the damage is minimal you might get off without much cost. You can be thankful that this accident did not result in physical harm to anyone and that it won't send you into bankruptcy. Hopefully it will inspire you to get insurance.

Asker

Posted

I completely forgot to take pictures. Honestly, I just panicked: it was my first accident and I wasn't prepared. The other party took pictures of only where my truck hit his van, and vice versa. Because I have no pictures, did I just screw my case? Also, would there be any possible way to get the opposing party's pictures?

David Lee Fiol

David Lee Fiol

Posted

I would suggest you stop worrying about pictures. You admit you were at fault so how could your cased get "screwed" any further? The fact that he only took pictures where you agree the van was damaged means that when and if he shows the pictures to a judge, he'll have a hard time claiming that there was also damage elsewhere - otherwise he would have taken pictures there as well. Most people don't think to take pictures of the damage to their cars after an accident, because they're so hyped up, so calm down, and see what happens. This is just money - no one's life is at stake.

Asker

Posted

Is there a risk of my license being suspended?

David Lee Fiol

David Lee Fiol

Posted

Driving without insurance is grounds for license suspension.

Posted

Based upon the limited information provided, and assuming that the Van was in the right lane which you were intending to merge into, then there is a likelihood that you will be found at least partially, if not totally, at fault for the accident. As the Van in the right lane had the right -of-way for that lane, the fact of the collision is presumptive proof that it was not safe for you to attempt to enter that lane when you did. As you did not have any insurance, you stand exposed to be liable to pay for any property damage or personal injury claims that may come out of this occurence. Consult with a local personal injury attorney to go over all the details and see what, if any, defenses to the accident you may have.

Asker

Posted

There was no injury, just scratches on the cars of both parties (his more than mine). Also, because he works at a car dealership, will that affect the legal action against me- an uninsured driver?

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

Jeffrey Ira Schwimmer

Posted

who he works for, or the fact that the car may be a "dealer's" car, does not work to your benefit. You will remain liable.

Posted

I'm not sure why you were driving without insurance. If you get sued, retain a local car accident lawyer to defend.

Asker

Posted

The car, itself, has insurance (via my parents). I, however, am not covered within their plan. Is it likely they may sue me? If so, how much am I looking at?

Timothy John Broussard

Timothy John Broussard

Posted

Make sure to tender the claim to your parents insurance. There are "in house" exclusions, but get a detailed response from them regardless. As for liability, you may be deemad a permissive user. Your parents face liability by the van owner for the accident.

Posted

You should attempt to resolve this matter with the van owner right away. Have him/her sign a Release of All Claims form. You also should be concerned about the passengers in your car as they may claim an injury. If this claim is reported to the DMV you could have your license suspended. Therefore, I would also suggest getting insurance immediately.

Mr. Crosner is licensed to practice law in California and has been practicing law in California since 1978. The response herein is general legal and business analysis.. It is not intended nor construed to be "legal advice" but rather it is analysis, and different lawyers may analyze this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.

Timothy John Broussard

Timothy John Broussard

Posted

Sounds like you might have a small property damage claim. Coming clean with the other side and offering payment for repairs immeidately may save a world of heart ache later wih the DMV.

Posted

Uninsured motorists that are at fault for an accident face civil as well as administrative and registration issues. Call a local attorney to assist in immediately resolving this claim otherwise actions can start that you may not be able to stop.

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