Can a not-at-fault driver w/out required auto insurance sue for auto accident damages? The question came up while watching two different TV judges making different decisions in very similar cases: one judge granted the damages, and another one essentially used "dirty hands" doctrine to deny the claim on the basis "if you haven't been driving w/out insurance the accident wouldn't happen."

I am curious which one is right? Or that differs from state to state?

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    TV judges are not "real" judges; see law.stackexchange.com/questions/29381/… Nov 2, 2018 at 1:22
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    If he had been driving with insurance, the accident would have happened just the same, so the logic is wrong. However, any country could have laws that have extra punishment for driving uninsured.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 3, 2018 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


The damages should be granted.

The “dirty hands” doctrine is only applicable when seeking equitable relief - motor vehicle damages fall under the tort of negligence.


I remember a case in Germany (local newspaper, happened about a mile from my home) where the driver was drunk, had no insurance, and the brakes on his car were unsafe. His car was hit by another car. The judge looked at the circumstances and decided that in this particular situation his car would have been hit if he had been sober, with insurance, and with excellent brakes, and that the other drive had to pay for the damages.

He was then also fined for drunk driving, driving without insurance, and driving a vehicle that was not fit for traffic.

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