I hope somebody knows something about car insurance

'cause I’m about panicking.

About 3 weeks ago I got in an accident-- I rear-ended a guy who came to a dead stop very fast on the freeway (due to other cars in front of him doing the same), and was also hit from behind. I did the best I could to stop but my brakes ain’t what they used to be, so I guess I was going about 15-20 mph when I hit him… no visible damage to his car (a rental SUV from Enterprise), SHITLOAD of damage to the car behind me and quite a bit to my car as well, at least in the front. We didn’t call the cops, I didn’t have an insurance card on me, so I gave them what info I could and they did the same (they were both insured), and we went our separate ways.

Come to find out, I’m not insured. I was on my dad’s policy and the day he renewed, the status of my license had not yet been formally changed from revoked to valid, I told them it would change in a few days, they never corresponded with me again about it so I assumed it was taken care of, which it obviously wasn’t. So now I have no idea how deep a world of shit I am in, and I need someone to tell me. Prepare me for it. As an uninsured motorist, do I have ANY rights? Can the guy who hit me (presumably his fault, right?) claim it was my fault, and have his insurance company come after me for some crazy amount? If they do, can I do anything about it? I don’t see how I can be held responsible for someone else rear-ending me, but then, I know jack about insurance. I expect to have Enterprise people all over me like white on rice, but I don’t want to be held responsible for something for which I honestly don’t think I’m at fault.

What can I expect from this? What, if anything, can I do?

Why was your license revoked?

You might want to talk to a lawyer. Not here, though. IRL.

a speeding ticket that I had neglected to pay on time.

do they generally charge just for talking? I’m in college. :frowning:

These guys won’t. Unfortunately, it looks like you’ve just missed their last October date.

You can also try these guys, who will charge you $20 for a half hour consultation.

Good luck.

Thanks for the info-- and you’ve just reminded me that we have a program at my university that allows law students to defend staff, faculty, and students for free, so chances are they wouldn’t charge me for consultation either.

So, just FTR, is the situation pretty much “no lawyer, no insurance, no rights”? If I have neither of those things, are they basically going to take whatever liberties they damn well please, even if the guy who hit me told his insurance company exactly what happened as it happened?

October 27, these guys are running their free LegalLine. It looks like Dallas and Houston run theirs the same time (second and third Wednesdays), and Fort Worth does theirs the second and fourth Thursdays. I hope this helps.

On preview, yes, go to the clinic at the law school. They may be able to help, and if they’re “defending” you for free, that would necessarily include the initial consult.

I am not your lawyer, nor are you my client. I am not licensed in your jurisdiction and even if I were, I would not give you legal advice on a messageboard. What follows is not legal advice. Read on at your peril.

No, but a lawyer or insurance company can help even up the odds for you by navigating an unfamiliar system. It seems your concern is that even if everyone involved in the accident truthfully states what happened, and it ultimately is determined that you were not at fault, you seem to think that the insurance company would try to force you to pay for the damage anyway. These things sometimes happen, but doing so would put the insurance company in a difficult situation.

You’re not stupid; you would realize that the insurance company was lying. You’d tell them to take a long walk off a short pier. If they persisted, they’d have to sue you to collect money. They would sue you for causing the accident, which would require them to prove that you caused the accident. But you didn’t cause the accident, and you could call a witness (their insured) who would testify that you didn’t cause the accident. Then the insurance company would be in (to use the legal terminology) deep doo-doo with the court.

That’s not to say this stuff doesn’t happen, and so having a lawyer or insurance company can be very helpful. Incidentally, I suspect you are also what we call “judgment-proof.” If you have no assets, even if the insurance company gets a judgment against you, they can’t get blood out of a turnip.

The above discussion is hypothetical only; there are a significant number of material facts I don’t know, so don’t rely on the above at all in judging your own legal situation. Check with the clinic at school; if they can’t help you, either pony up the $20 to use the Austin Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service, or wait until the 27th and talk to the Tarrant County Bar’s LegalLine. I don’t know Texas law, so there could be some big pothole out there to trip you up. Best of luck.

Texas is a weird place legally, even by my standards. So all the usual caveats about “consult a TX qualified professional, etc…”

BUT, and there’s always a big but, what most folks, and you presumably, don’t understand is that there’s a couple different systems at work here. In the criminal system (laws) you done a bad bad thing by not being insured. The misunderstanding, ultimately, is your fault in that regard. If you get ticketed for no insurance, dig deep and do the paperwork to get back on track. Now. That means nothing in the CIVIL side of the accident. Which is where any damages will be addressed.

See, getting behind the wheel means you accept the duty of maintaining the safety of others. In short, it’s incumbent upon you not to run into stuff ahead of you. No matter how erratically you think the driver was behaving (within general limits of reasonableness) you need to make sure you leave yourself adequate time to not ram his backside should he need to stop for some reason. Shame on you for smashing the Enterprise car. This is civil law, and the area you’re seeking enlightenment in. Don’t bother contesting the criminal (no insurance law) side of things, you’re naked. But on the civil side, you’re responsible for the damages your actions caused to the car ahead of you, as well as the corresponding damages to the front of your car. The guy behind you owed you the same duty to stay off your rear end, so he’s responsible for the damages to his front and your rear.

Your life will suck, because the damage to the front of your car likely totalled it, which means the guy behind you ran into a car with existing heavy front end damage. See where this is going? You might get some compensation for the damage to the rear of your car, but not much. You owe zilch to the dude that hit your rear, and you owe all of the damage to the rear of the guy in front of you. Just like you might expect.

As long as there are no injuries to consider, your expenses will be the repair to the rental SUV you hit and the damage you did to your own car. Your lack of insurance in no way releases the guy behind you from his obligation to not ram your car.


first, Inigo, thank you for the time you took to respond. are you a lawyer/insurance agent, or do you have considerable experience in dealing with insurance companies? regardless of your answer I will of course in no way hold you responsible for any decisions I make hereafter, but I would just like to know. now I have a few more questions you (or someone else) might know the answer to:

is it possible that I would be ticketed after the fact? I’m not currently driving my car since, without a headlight, it is legally undrivable. how could I get a ticket?

I expected this much. hopefully the damage to the rental car was as minimal as it appeared, but either way I’m sure Enterprise spared no expense in making it perfect again, which by extension means neither will I.

even if I have no insurance? I thought this would pretty much release him from liability. if I do have the right to pursue damages from him, how would I do so? through his insurance company, or would I have to take it to small claims (ugh)?

also, assuming I can pursue damages from him, would he not also be responsible for smushing my car up against the SUV, further damaging the front of my car and the back of that SUV?

is it possible, though, that the guy who hit me convinced his insurance company that it was my fault? is this even feasible if he rear-ended me (which, from the state of his car, is quite clear was the case)? I already expect to pay for the damages to the SUV, but I’m scared to death that Big Bad Insurance Company will manipulate events to seem as though I’m at fault for BOTH the collisions, and being both lawyer- and insurance-less, I won’t have any say in the matter.

How close were you following to the guy in front of you when this happened? I’m a big believer that nearly 90% of all accidents could be avoided if people didn’t get so close to eachother. :confused:

I got in a similar accident last year here in Cali. I was coming to a stop at a light and a girl ran into me and rammed me into the car in front of me. Now here’s where the little technicalities set in: if the person in front of me felt the hit twice, it would have been my fault. It would mean that I hit them and then the person behind me piled up too as a result of my immediate stop.

But since they only felt the jolt once, it was the person behind me who was at fault. So a similar thing might come into play here.

On a side note about auto insurance, stay away from Geico. Do not EVER trust your vehicle to them. They screwed me over three times, and failed to help me when I got rearended. I saved 15% or more (yea, more like 50%) by cancelling Geico!

Back on topic here- a lawyer would definately be your best bet. I’m not sure if big companies like Enterprise will want to waste their time and money going after a little guy who’s (no offense) un-insured to begin with. They may figure that there’s not much to take from you but your time. If the driver of the vehicle purchased that rip-off insurance they always try to con you into buying, then that could possibly be your ‘get out of jail free’ card. But again, I’m not sure on this.

Most drivers will also carry un-insured motorist coverage, so again, there’s another possibility.

Good luck.

I was well over a car length away, but that’s nowhere near sufficiently far to prevent a collision in the case of an immediate stop. how far away would I have had to be though, honestly, going 50 miles an hour (previous to braking)? half a freakin’ mile? ugh.

I donno. no matter what, I can’t see it being your fault for someone else hitting you from behind. maybe your fault for hitting the guy in front of you; maybe even your fault if you’d stopped in the middle of the road with no reason for doing so. but I was under the impression that it’s pretty much never your fault if you’re the one who got rear-ended.

see, I’m inclined to think the opposite… I figure Enterprise, being the huge company that it is, probably has entire departments devoted to squeezing money out of people for vehicular damage, whether it be renters or dumbass drivers. seems to me that basically what purchasing the insurance would do in the case of a driver-not-at-fault accident is shift the cost of repairing the rental car from the rental driver to the actual at-fault driver, by way of Enterprise fronting for the repairs and then hunting down the actual at-fault driver like a dog in the streets.

again, it seems to me highly unlikely that insurance companies will just cheerfully fork over cash to fix vehicles if someone other than the insured is to blame. if you are involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist, the insurance company gives you money, and you probably don’t hear another thing about it nor care to. but that doesn’t mean the insurance company takes no action against the uninsured motorist, given they have sufficient information to do so.

kicking this back to the front, just once, in hopes that maybe someone’s around now that wasn’t then.

Automobilie insurance claims adjuster. And part time revenge crusader.

Yep, you can get ticketed after the fact because at the time of the loss you were not insured. As I said, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re insured. If only because it’s nobody else’s responsibility.

Sort of true. You owe the prevailing market price for the repairs. Most bodyshops adhere to a more or less common pricing structure for labor, and prices for parts to the same car don’t vary much regardless of where they come from. They can’t charge you a $1,000 inconvenience fee or special-labor-rates-to-punish-the-uninsured. So the actual repair price should be reasonable. Rental company might bill you for the time the car was unavailable for rental while it was being prepared. Most insurance companies laugh at that kind of “loss of use” bill but you may not have the clout to do so. If you get this kind of bill, do what we do: make the company prove they suffered a loss. To do so they have to prove they had no other vehicles in that class available to rent–all their SUVs were out. They won’t prove this because they can’t. Usually. So if they can’t prove a loss, you don’t owe it.

The status of your insurance in no way releases someone from their obligtation to not negligently destroy your stuff or to injure you. You failed to make sure you were in compliance with an administrative law, he failed to maintain a safe following distance and caused property damage as a result. The authorities can punish you as they see fit for the insurance gig, but nobody has the right to smash your stuff. If you can verify the damages you have suffered from being hit, present them to the driver. If he has insurance he can direct you to them and they’ll handle it. If you feel you need to take him to court, be advised that he will be represented (at no cost to him) by his insurance company. Be prepared.

Technically yes. But you’d have to be able to demonstrate the different damages caused by your car, and then those caused by your car being pushed back into it. Work on solving the troubles in the Middle East, it’s easier and carries a higher certainty of success.

Not likey at all. Unless you lock your wheels up for no reason at all on a big clear road, it is the responsibility of every driver to anticipate sudden emergencies…like you running into a car ahead of you.

Get some sleep, this won’t happen. If it does, you will become rich in very short order after an attorney hears about the unethical actions of the insurer. You’re naked and alone without the support of a good insurance company, but you are not without rights.


A quick question. Let me preface this as being strictly hypothetical and is in no way reflective of the actual situation faced by nevermore.

If nevermore had struck the vehicle in front of him without ever using his brakes, hence no brake lights ever coming on, does that release any liability to the person behind him?

Just thought I’d poke my head in and offer a few thoughts, (I am not a lawyer).

Seriously, You’d do well to take a refresher driver’s safety course. The attitude displayed by your comment gives one the impression you think you should be allowed to drive an unsafe distance behind a car. If you find a “half mile behind” so distasteful, is it better to be in the trouble you are in now?

You hitting him and you getting hit sound like they might be 2 seperate events.

Well, I work daily with large coporate rental car accounts and I think you are mistaken. Why pay high-priced lawyers to fleece poor college students? Where’s the profit?

I believe that you should really get some legal advice, immediately get some insurance, and slow down and give the yourself plenty of stopping distance. Count to 4 slowly when the car ahead of you passes a light pole, if you pass it before the count of 4, slow down until you do. This is a good rul e of thumb that applies to any speed.

Good luck.

Depending on the circumstances, maybe. Like if nevermore ran into a highway pileup in clear conditions and just failed to notice the smoking debris ahead of him AND there was no way the driver behind him could have known there was a problem AND there was evidence that the driver had time to process the sudden lack of motion of nevermore’s car AND managed to apply ample brake pressure for a reasonable time…Maybe in that case I might split the liability and let the other driver handle his own damages and nevermore handle his own. It’s like a judge told me when I took my place in a higwway pileup, “I understand you didn’t anticipate traffic stopping so suddenly, but who was in the best position to stop your car?” You have to prepare for the crash, not for the ride. For a rear-ender to be someone else’s fault you almost need to demonstrate that the person who got hit actually took action to intentionally cause the accident.

As for the Enterprise Brute Squad, they have their own claims department. And every claims department has a subrogation division that collects damages from those who owe them. No court or fancy lawyer is needed 90% of the time. When an insurance company makes an Uninsure Motorist settlement, you can bet that they will transfer responsibility for that payment to the liable party. Because that’s who owes for the damages.

Inigo, thank you. you have set my mind much more at ease.

I’m still confused on how I’d go about filing a claim against the guy who hit me, though… do I just call his insurance company and talk to his agent? will they even deal with me, being uninsured and having no insurance company to harass them if they don’t pay me?

BMalion, I doubt Enterprise has any idea I’m a college student, though they do know I’m uninsured. if they try to contact me again, I guess I’ll tell them, and hopefully things are as you say.

You seem rather confused about the function of auto insurance.

Imagine, for a moment, a world in which auto insurance does not exist. If you get into an accident with someone and it is your fault, you have to pay for the damage to his car, just as, if you negligently drop coffee down someone’s front, you need to pay for his drycleaning. Since he wasn’t doing anything wrong (it’s your fault), he doesn’t have to pay for the damage to your car. The only person left to pay for such damage is you. So you would be on the hook for both cars. This represents a risk - at any time, you could suddenly be asked to pay large sums of money because you made a mistake.

(Your risk represents an opportunity for the insurance company. They offer you a deal - instead of an unpredictable risk of a large payment, you can pay a small, predictable premium, and they will cough up the money for the big risk if it happens. The catch is that the small, predictable premium is going to add up to more than the amount of the big payment times the probability of it happening - so over the long run and many drivers, the insurance company has more money even after the payouts.)

Setting aside the possible criminal implications of driving without insurance for the moment, you are in exactly the situation that you were in our world without insurance. You were at fault (we assume) when you rear-ended the guy ahead of you, so you have to pay for the damage you did to his car by hitting him (probably not too bad, from your description of the damage). You also have to pay for the damage to your own car from that accident. If you had (the right type of) insurance, both of these payouts would be made by the insurance company. Since you don’t you’re on the hook for them.

Split seconds later, you were involved in another accident, which was the other driver’s fault (again, an assumption, which may not apply in your case - do talk to that TX lawyer/law student). He did some damage to your car, which he must pay for. Fortunately for him, he is insured, so his insurance company pays for whatever damage was done to your car. Of course, most of the damage was probably done in the first accident, so he doesn’t owe you much. His insurance probably also pays for the damage to his own car, assuming he was carrying collision. But you don’t have to pay for the damage to his car, because it wasn’t your fault that it was damaged. Even though he has insurance and you don’t, if you didn’t cause his problem, you don’t have to pay for it. If he does cause your problem, he does have to pay for it, either directly or by proxy through his insurance agency, whether or not you have insurance. Your insurance status is just not relevant when he is the one at fault. (Nevertheless, your insurance company may keep track of your non-fault accidents and adjust your premium, subject to state laws. A person who gets into lots of accidents where he is not at fault may be a statistical risk for getting into an at-fault accident in the future. But it’s not because your insurance had to pay out for you and are trying to get it back, as commonly believed - they don’t pay out when you’re not at fault.)

Standard disclaimers apply. I don’t know jack about TX law. I’m just applying general tort and insurance principles.

Yes, they will talk to you. But if you’re planning to talk to a lawyer, do that first. If you retain a lawyer, he’ll most likely do the talking, and he better not say anything unfortunately like implying that you were at fault in that part of the pileup.

At worst, if they stonewalled you, you’d sue them for the damage. But I doubt it will get that far.

Oh yeah, I forgot that part. You were in two accidents. You hitting the car ahead of you, and you getting hit from behind and pushed into the car ahead of you. Immediately before the first accident your car had a market value, let’s call it $7,000. Let’s say that the initial damage to your front end was $5,000 and the car was damaged too badly to run. In the second accident, the guy behind you ran into an inoperable car with heavy front end damage. He may have done $5,000 damage to the rear of the car and some additional to the front, but what is the market value of an inoperable car with heavy front end damage? Someplace between $0 & $500? In that case the most you would be owed is $500 for that car you just rammed into the rear bumper of an SUV. It’s his fault for hitting your rear, but NOT his fault your car had heavy front end damage. Sucks, dude. Neck getting stiff yet? :eek: I didn’t just say that!

Forgive me if this is stupid. But I am 57 years old. I got my drivers license when I was 16. In all that time, I was always told, not only by my parents, but also police and friends, and always believed that if there is a rearend collision such as is described in the OP (lack of insurance aside), whether there were 2 cars or 5 cars, it will always be the fault of the last car in the line.

Have I been wrong all these years due to being a :wally or did things change?