If you did not have insurance on the date of the accident, then your recovery (assuming you recover anything at all) will be limited to your economic damages. Examples of economic damages are hospital bills, ER bills, physical therapy bills, property damages, lost earnings, future medical bills, and other economic damages that can be measured. However, that's pretty much where it stops. If you did not have insurance on the date of the accident, then you cannot recover "general" damages.
General damages are often known as damages for "pain and suffering." If you have a smaller injury, then involving a lawyer will be tough. Most lawyers won't get involved in a case like this because your recovery will be severely limited. Also, just because you have certain economic damages doesn't mean the insurance company for the responsible party won't try to nickel and dime every expense. After all, they don't have to pay your bills just because you accumulated them. However, if you have a significant injury, especially one that will require future care, a lawyer may be willing to help you because there is more chance for recovery. Getting a lawyer on board in that case might be helpful to your case.
I recently had to turn away a handful of cases because the clients had no insurance. Proposition 213 (a California law passed in 1996) limits their recovery to only economic damages. These are known as the Financial Responsibility laws because they essentially say that if you don't play by the rules, you cannot benefit from doing so. Because their cases were relatively small, I told them they might be better off without a lawyer because my fees would eat into their recovery which is limited in the first place. Therefore, you can always get legal advice but if you did not have insurance, there is only so much a lawyer can do.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,