No pay, no play.
If you’re unfamiliar with this phrase in the context of car insurance law, here’s what it means:
A state with a no pay, no play law does not allow an uninsured motorist to receive compensation after an accident, even if they weren’t at fault.
It’s kind of like calling “No fair!” during a game.
If the uninsured motorist wouldn’t be able to compensate another driver after an accident that was their fault, they can’t recover the same if the tables are turned.
What’s the difference between economic and non-economic damages?
Even in states with no pay, no play laws, uninsured drivers are usually able to recover economic damages like actual medical bills and property damage. The limitations apply generally to non-economic damages like pain and suffering or other emotional distress.
Economic damages are those that have a specific monetary cost. They could include medical treatment, property damage, lost wages, and other items that can be quantified and have a set value.
Non-economic damages are those that don’t have specific associated costs. That might be pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, or punitive damages.
How insurance works
In general, there are 2 ways insurance could cover injuries in an accident.
If you live in a no-fault insurance state, you would seek compensation from you own insurance company after a car accident, regardless of who is at fault. If you’re the at-fault driver, the injured person would make a claim against their own insurance policy — not yours. However, if the costs for their injuries are above a certain amount, it might be possible for the injured person to claim an amount that’s above their own policy limits from your insurance. If you don’t have insurance to cover it, you could be responsible for paying out of your own pocket.
States that don’t follow the no-fault system are considered tort states. In a tort state, the person who caused the accident is responsible for damages. If you caused an accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll need to pay for damages from your own pocket. If you can’t pay, a court judgment could look at options like liens on your property or garnishing your wages until the damages are paid.
These states currently have a no pay, no play law:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
In essence, a no pay, no play law isn’t intended to be punishment or vengeance against an uninsured driver. It’s meant to encourage all drivers to have appropriate insurance and comply with state financial responsibility laws.
Let’s break down how the no pay, no play law works in each of these 11 states.
|Alaska||An uninsured driver cannot recover non-economic damages unless the at-fault driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, was reckless, had intent to cause injury, or fled the scene of the accident.|
|California||An injured person cannot recover non-economic damages if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash and were convicted for DUI. This also applies if the injured driver’s vehicle wasn’t insured and they can’t establish financial responsibility under state law. If the other (at-fault) driver was convicted of DUI for the accident, the uninsured driver may recover all losses, including non-economic.|
|Indiana||A driver who was uninsured at the time of an accident and who has a prior violation of financial liability laws cannot collect non-economic damages from the at-fault driver.|
|Iowa||If the injured person in an accident was in the process of committing a felony (and was convicted), they cannot recover for non-economic damages.|
|Kansas||Kansas law requires personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. If an injured person doesn’t have required PIP benefits, they cannot recover non-economic losses from an accident in an uninsured vehicle. Any person convicted of DUI is prohibited from recovering non-economic damages in an accident.|
|Louisiana||If an injured person was uninsured at the time of an accident, they cannot recover for physical injury up to $15,000 or property damage up to $25,000. The exception is if the at-fault driver was driving under the influence at the time of the accident, if the injury was intentional, or if the at-fault driver fled the scene.|
|Michigan||There are no damages allowed for an injured motorist who was uninsured.|
|Missouri||An injured uninsured motorist can only make a claim against an at-fault driver if the driver was under the influence at the time of the accident.|
|New Jersey||Drivers who are uninsured, under the influence, or have intent to injure themselves or others may not claim either economic or non-economic damages.|
|North Dakota||An uninsured injured driver may not claim non-economic damages against an insured driver if the uninsured driver has at least one conviction of driving without insurance.|
|Oregon||An uninsured driver may only recover non-economic damages from an insured driver if the at-fault, insured driver acted intentionally or recklessly or was committing a felony at the time of the accident.|
Why do states have no pay, no play laws?
According to lawmakers, no pay, no play laws encourage drivers to get the required insurance, and that benefits everyone. In the states with no pay, no play laws, failure to have certain insurance is breaking the law.
The intent of these laws is to protect an at-fault driver who complies with the law by purchasing insurance from having to compensate an uninsured driver for non-economic damages.
If you never want to worry about these laws — whether your state has one currently or not — the simple answer is to make sure to purchase the required insurance for your vehicle.
Are there other penalties for driving without insurance?
It’s never a good idea to drive without auto insurance.
Remember: no pay, no play laws are only about your recovering personal injury damages from another driver in an accident. But if you’re found to be driving without valid insurance, you might also be subject to criminal penalties or administrative fines — and they can be steep.
A state law might have a punishment that involves fines of hundreds or thousands of dollars for failure to maintain insurance. You could also be penalized with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
“I was uninsured and had an accident. What do I do now?”
We won’t lie — you’re in a tough spot.
A personal injury attorney might help, though they’re bound by the laws in your state. Still, they might be able to guide you through finding ways to minimize your costs so you can get back on track after an accident.
You can use the Enjuris Personal Injury Law Firm Directory to find a qualified personal injury lawyer in your state who’s best suited to help with your legal needs.