What if Your Car Registration was Expired at the Time of the Crash?

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on February 8, 2021 and updated on June 20, 2023.

traffic citation

Even though it is against the law to drive your car while the registration is expired, it is unlikely this will affect your ability to seek compensation after an accident.

Below, the Maryland car accident attorneys from Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices discuss why an expired tag is usually irrelevant to a claim. In Maryland, if another driver is 100 percent at fault for a crash, the victim has the right to seek compensation from the other driver’s car insurance policy.

The experienced lawyers at Peter T. Nicholl Law Offices have recovered millions on behalf of our clients, many of whom were car crash victims. Unlike the insurance company, our firm is committed to pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.

Will Insurance Cover an Accident if Registration is Expired?

You should be able to seek compensation for damages from the at-fault driver’s liability insurance, even though your registration has expired. The key thing to remember is the accident did not happen because of your expired tag. The crash occurred because of the other driver’s negligence.

It is negligent to drive with an expired registration, but the insurance company cannot assign fault to you because of your failure to renew your registration. They can only assign fault to you for something you did that caused the crash to happen, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Following too closely/tailgating
  • Violating another driver’s right of way
  • Running a red light
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving with a busted taillight
  • Failing to use your turn signal before turning
  • And more

First-Party Coverage For Car Accident With Expired Registration

Even if you have an expired registration, you may be able to seek compensation from your own insurance policy. The expired tag usually does not affect car insurance coverage or cause the policy to be voided. Typically, insurance companies cannot cancel coverage because your registration expired in the middle of the term of an insurance policy. That said, if you do not update your registration, you will not be able to renew your insurance policy when the current policy term expires.

Although Maryland crash victims usually obtain compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, they may also seek compensation from the first-party coverage in their own insurance policy, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, collision coverage and medical payment coverage. Remember that these are optional add-ons to an insurance policy, so it is important to review your existing coverage, as well as other coverage options with a knowledgeable attorney.

Could Comprehensive Coverage Apply if My Registration Expired?

Comprehensive coverage would apply to a crash that did not involve another vehicle, such as a crash with an animal. However, this coverage requires you to pay your deductible before the insurance policy will kick in.

Even though an expired registration usually does not affect a car accident claim, you should renew your registration as soon as possible.

When Could an Insurance Policy be Canceled in the Middle of the Term?

Usually, insurance policies are canceled in the middle of a term because:

  • The policyholder lied on the application, which could be called insurance fraud.
  • The policyholder failed to pay the premium after being warned by the insurance company that the policy would be canceled for non-payment.
  • You have an expired driver’s license, or it gets taken away for some reason.

What Happens if You Get in an Accident Without a Valid Registration?

Even though you should be able to seek compensation for the damages you suffered in the crash, there are other consequences for driving with an expired vehicle registration.

When the police arrive at the scene, they will request your driver’s license and registration. If your registration is expired, the officer will issue a citation.

You could be fined several hundred dollars if the police cite you for driving with an expired tag. You may also have restrictions placed on your license. Drivers will also be charged with a criminal misdemeanor.

That is why you should always make sure to renew your vehicle registration and put the new sticker on your license plate.

While a traffic citation for an expired tag should not affect your claim, other types of traffic citations might.

What to Do After a Car Accident Without Your Registration?

If you were injured in a crash with an expired registration, you should treat it the same way you would any other accident.

1. Move Your Car Out of the Flow of Traffic

The last thing you want to happen is for your vehicle to get struck by a passing car. Not only could your vehicle suffer serious damage, but you could also be severely injured. Move your car as far away from active traffic lanes as you can.

2. Call 9-1-1

If your vehicle suffered damage and you think you may be injured, you should call the police. In fact, it is almost always best to call the police to the scene of any vehicle accident. If you do not call the police it may be harder to prove to the insurance company that there was an accident and that it was the cause of your injuries.

3. Exchange Information With the Other Driver

After a crash, those involved often get out and exchange information while waiting for the police to arrive. This could include:

  • Name
  • Phone number or other contact information
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Vehicle registration information

4. Do Not Leave the Scene

It may be tempting to simply flee the scene. You may be afraid of the penalties for driving with an expired registration. However, fleeing the scene is only going to make things worse. It is illegal to leave the scene of a crash. You will face penalties for fleeing, along with the penalties for allowing your registration to expire when you continued driving.

5. Tell the Truth

There is no sense in lying about your expired registration. The police will find out. You could face charges for lying to the police. This is also going to hurt your credibility in a compensation claim.

6. Call an Experienced Lawyer

Even if it seems clear that the other driver is 100 percent at fault, the insurance company may try to deny your claim or offer a small amount of compensation. This is just one of many reasons why you need an experienced attorney to guide you through the process.

Can the Insurance Company Use My Expired Registration Against Me?

If an expired tag does not have any bearing on a car crash claim, why would the insurance company attempt to use it against you?

No matter what state you are in, insurance companies have the incentive to try to assign partial fault for a crash to the victim. This may allow them to deny or devalue a claim.

This incentive is strong in Maryland because you are prohibited from recovering any compensation if you are found to be even one percent at fault for a crash. Maryland is one of a handful of states with such a harsh law.

If you think you are partially to blame for a crash, you should only discuss this with your attorney. The insurance company will try to use this against you. However, you can trust that your attorney will explain whether you still have a case.

Injured in a Car Accident With Expired Registration? Call Today

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