Road risks are rising, I read in the Wall Street Journal, because financially squeezed car owners have let their auto insurance lapse. As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana, I’m certainly in a position to understand the way financial pressure can lead to unwise decisions. But, since I have bankruptcy law offices in four different locations, increased road risk is hardly something I relish thinking about. “A good proportion of people on the road are either uninsured or underinsured,” warns Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute.
There are several important things I want to point out to my blog readers. The Indiana Legislative Code states that “a person in Indiana may not register or operate a motor vehicle if financial responsibility is not in effect for the vehicle.” Driving without auto liability insurance in Indiana is a Class A infraction, explains carinsurance.com, subject to a 90-day license suspension (or a one-year suspension for a repeat violation within a three-year period).
Other than my own drive to my offices in Bloomington, Columbus, Anderson, and Indianapolis, and to court, how does car insurance relate to bankruptcy? As I explained in Oh Yes, You Can Stop Being Harassed!, the moment someone files bankruptcy in Indiana, an order goes out from the bankruptcy court to all creditors, telling those creditors to leave that debtor alone. That Automatic Stay means creditors can file lawsuits, can’t foreclose, can’t repossess property.
Now, all those rules hold true for a car accident defendant who has injured someone else in the accident. The Automatic Stay would mean the injured person’s getting help with medical costs would be delayed in the event there was no insurance.
It all comes back to the message I keep repeating, urging people to seek legal help at the earliest signs of financial trouble. Please, I want to shout, don’t be part of the increasing road risk that hurts us all!