Is There A Way Around No Pay, No Play Laws?
Eleven states currently have 'No Pay, No Play' laws in place that prohibit uninsured drivers from collecting certain types of compensation when they are involved in an accident that's not their fault. States who have these laws feel uninsured people wouldn't be able to pay accident victims compensation for their injuries, so they (the uninsured) shouldn't be afforded the same benefit. If you're stuck in this situation, you may be wondering if there's any way to get around these laws. Here are three options you can try.
Qualify for an Exception
States with 'No Pay, No Play' laws typically have exceptions to the rule. If you qualify for one of these exceptions, you'll be allowed to pursue the compensation you would normally be banned from (typically non-economic damages such as pain and suffering). Therefore, it's in your best interest to research the exceptions in your state and determine whether your case fits one of them.
In Kansas, for instance, if you were uninsured for less than 45 days and had insurance the year before, you would be able to sue for the full amount of damages you're owed.
Be aware that some states will still let you pursue all damages but may impose a deductible. For example, in Louisiana, you won't be able to collect the first $15,000 of your claim for bodily injuries, but you'll be able to receive any amount above and beyond that. So if your bodily damages totaled $25,000, you would only receive $10,000 of that money.
Most states post their 'No Pay, No Play' rules online, so take a moment to conduct your own research to help you determine how best to handle your case.
Argue the Law Violates the Constitution
Another option is to argue that the law violates either the state or federal constitution. If you can prove the law violates your rights or discriminates against you in some way, the court may throw it out and let you proceed as normal.
Oklahoma is a good example of this. The court determined the law created a special class of people who were treated differently based on whether they were insured or not and ruled it violated the Oklahoma constitution as a result.
Challenging the constitutionality of a particular law can be immensely challenging, and there's no guarantee the judge will buy your argument. Additionally, there's a real possibility you may have to appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court, which can be expensive and time consuming.
If you feel strongly about the issue, though, it may be worth pursuing this path. Your personal injury attorney may decline to continue the case with you, since most accident lawyers work on contingency, meaning the person will only get paid if you win your case. The attorney may feel the additional expense of handling your appeals without getting paid may not be worth the trouble. So be prepared to change lawyers when the time comes.
Increase Economic Damages
'No Pay, No Play' laws typically target non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and mental anguish. However, you'll still be able to collect economic damages, such as lost wages and medical bills. A third option is to see if your non-economic damages can be transformed into economic ones.
For example, if you're suffering lingering pain from the accident, rather than ask for pain and suffering, you could seek out treatment and submit the bills to the defendant for reimbursement. Obviously you won't get as much as you would if you could sue for pain and suffering directly, but it may help you get more than you would've been eligible for.
For help combating 'No Pay, No Play' laws in your state or help with a car accident case, contact an attorney like Carl L. Britt, Jr. near you.