Iowa

Accidents with No Car Insurance

Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid LSC Funded

I was in a car accident that wasn’t my fault, but I didn’t have car insurance. What can happen to me? 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) must suspend your driver’s license and the vehicle registration if you do not have car insurance and are involved in an accident that results in:
  • bodily injury, 
  • death, OR
  • damage of $1,500 or more to the property.
All the registrations of the owner of the motor vehicle are suspended, even if the owner was not driving during the accident.
 

Are there any exceptions?

The DOT should not suspend your license or registration if:
  • You post money or a surety bond as security in an amount the DOT says is enough to satisfy any judgment for damages, with a maximum of $55,000; 
  • The only damage or injury was done to the uninsured person;
  • The vehicle was legally stopped, standing or parked; OR
  • Your vehicle was driven without your consent.

You can also avoid having your license or registration suspended if you file satisfactory evidence with the DOT before the date of suspension that you: 

  • Received a release from liability from the other driver, 
  • Have a court order that says you are not liable for the damage,
  • Are not at fault or there is no reasonable possibility of a judgment because:
    • the other driver admits causing the accident,
    • the investigating officer’s report says the other driver caused the accident,
    • witness statements indicate the other driver caused the accident, or 
    • the other driver is convicted of a violation which caused the accident.
  • Entered into a written payment agreement with the others in the accident (there are several ways to do this including with a special Agreement Release form or a Confession of Judgment that is filed in court), 
  • Received a document showing that the other driver or the driver’s insurance company accepted liability and paid the damages, OR
  • Filed a bankruptcy petition that included all the possible claims from the accident.

What if the suspension already happened?

If your license and/or registration has already been suspended, the suspension will stay until one of the following happens:

  • You pay an amount set by the DOT.
  • Twelve months have passed since the accident and the DOT has not been told about any lawsuits for damages regarding the accident.
  • Evidence has been filed with the DOT showing:
    • Release from liability, 
    • Final court decision that you aren’t liable, 
    • Confession of judgment, OR
    • Written payment agreement with the other party. 

If I don’t have a way to stop or end the suspension, how do I get my license and/or registration back?

If judgment is entered against you, you can try to get your license and/or registration back by:
  • Getting a written consent from the person who has the judgment;
  • Paying the judgment amount and getting a receipt from the clerk of court showing all payments have been made on the judgment;
  • Filing a bankruptcy petition that includes the judgment;
  • Entering into a court-authorized repayment plan;
  • Proving you had liability insurance coverage at the time of the accident.

Where can I go for help with my case?

If you get notices or court papers and need legal advice, you may be able to get help from Iowa Legal Aid or talk to a private attorney.
  • Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. Income and asset limits apply.
  • To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid, call 1-800-532-1275.
  • If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, you can look for an attorney through the Iowa State Bar Association’s Find-a-Lawyer website – www.iowafindalawyer.com.  Attorneys taking part in Find-a-Lawyer charge a $25.00 fee for the first 30-minute consultation. If you need more help beyond the 30-minute consultation, you will need to negotiate a fee arrangement with the attorney.

Last review 8/27/12

This information is not a substitute for legal advice