Found out my insurance lapsed after I was in a car accident...

by Ann
(New Jersey)

I was driving and my car brakes were acting funny. I tried to turn but it was not working, which was when I hit another car. My car was towed as it was severely damaged. I called my insurance to report it and they told me my insurance was cancelled on June 31st. I was not aware.

I had bank fraud committed against me, and so I changed my ATM card that was charged monthly by my auto insurer and never told them the new ATM card number. When I found out I called the other woman and offered to try and take care of her car as I felt terrible. I am a 41 year old widow of 3 kids.

At the accident scene I gave the officer my insurance card as I thought I was insured. In NJ, will I get an uninsured motorist ticket or lose my license? I was going to get a letter from my bank to prove I changed my ATM card due to fraud. Would this help? What could happen to me? Any direction you could give on how to handle this situation would be great. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Found out my insurance lapsed after I was in a car accident...":

Ann (New Jersey):

The mandatory penalties in New Jersey for driving without insurance include automatic loss of license for one year, $300 fine, and a period of community service to be determined by the Municipal Court. (N.J.S.A. 39:6B-2)

Presuming you were responsible for the accident, once the other driver learns you were uninsured, the driver will likely report you to the police or to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Bureau. When that occurs you will soon thereafter receive a letter suspending your license, until such time as you are able to show you had insurance at the time of the accident. You did not.

While your license will likely be suspended you will have a right to contest the suspension in Municipal Court.

While you can explain to the judge the problems you had with your ATM, it is unlikely the judge will accept that defense. To have your license returned will require you to pay for the driver's property damage and medical bills (if applicable). Once that occurs, and you show proof of insurance of course, your driver's license should be returned.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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