Safety Responsibility Law

Reviewed by
Darrel Pendry
Updated: 29 February 2024

What Does Safety Responsibility Law Mean?

The safety responsibility law aims to protect people who suffer damages and injuries in crashes caused by uninsured motorists. Enacted in 1945, this program gives incentive to motorists who have liability insurance or those who otherwise have the financial ability to satisfy crash damages independently. As such, it encourages motorists to buy liability insurance.

Moreover, it revokes the driving registration and license of uninsured drivers and car owners who have caused the accident but do not pay for the damages and injuries that they have inflicted on individuals or properties. Therefore, even if the owner is not driving the uninsured car, he or she is still liable and may have his or her license suspended.

The safety responsibility law is sometimes referred to as the financial responsibility law.

Insuranceopedia Explains Safety Responsibility Law

Operating a motor vehicle on public roadways is an inherently hazardous activity with a high propensity for causing injury or property damage to yourself and others. As a result, most jurisdictions have enacted some version of safety responsibility laws to ensure that everyone operating or owning a motor vehicle are able to meet their obligations to others if they are found responsible for bodily injury or property damage.

The law works by incentivizing or requiring that drivers or owners of motor vehicles either carry adequate liability insurance or prove that they have the financial ability (in the form of money or assets) to compensate third parties for losses.

You might be surprised to learn that not all US states require compulsory automobile insurance. For example, New Hampshire and Virginia do not have such requirements for drivers. The safety responsibility law bridges the gap and applies to everyone who owns motor vehicles and is involved in reported vehicular accidents in all 50 states of the country. Under this law, the process is initiated when a crash is reported to the Crash Records Unit (CRU) of the State Patrol. If all motorists involved in the crash are insured then no action is taken.

However, if the CRU determines that one motorist is uninsured, the others who are involved in the crash are notified and can invoke the sanctions of the law for any injuries and damages incurred. Once the damages are substantiated, the Uninsured Motorist Unit sends notice of suspension to the owner of the uninsured vehicle who is at fault in the crash. The owner will not be suspended unless they deposit an amount to cover the damages that resulted from the crash or request a hearing if they cannot render the amount to pay for the damages.

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