What Happens When An Unlicensed Driver Causes A Car Accident?

Imagine being in a traffic accident and finding out the other driver didn’t have a license. This could also mean they don’t have coverage on their vehicle. Situations like this happen regularly, and while many would assume that unlicensed driving automatically designates liability, this isn’t always the case. What if you were at fault? And what if the car isn’t their own vehicle, but one they borrowed?

These are important questions to understand if you’re involved in a traffic accident with an unlicensed driver.

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Liability of the Unlicensed Driver

When a car accident happens in New York or California, whether a driver has a license doesn’t determine fault.

In New York, parties must turn to their insurance companies to sort out responsibility regarding compensation for damages. This determination will be affected by other factors, particularly if there’s insurance on the vehicle driven by the unlicensed driver who caused the collision.

In California, the level of negligence from each driver is taken into consideration to determine fault. More than one driver can be liable for causing an accident, regardless if someone is driving without a license.

Car Driver

Uninsured Vehicle Driven by an Unlicensed Driver

To purchase and maintain a valid insurance policy on a vehicle, you need a valid driver’s permit. If your accident involves a driver whose license is under suspension, their insurance coverage has likely lapsed, and you’ll have to pursue damages through your own policy and the courts.

Unlicensed and Driving a Borrowed Car

This is a common scenario that happens across the United States. A family member drives illegally with a car they borrowed from a relative. As long as they had permission to drive the vehicle, the associated policy will cover losses resulting from a collision, even if they didn’t have a valid license.

woman driving a car and looking to the right

Unlicensed Driver Using a Stolen Car

For accidents involving a stolen vehicle or a situation where permission wasn’t given to operate it, the coverage policy will refuse to take care of any associated claims. It’s possible if the liable driver has a secondary policy on another vehicle, you may try to recover injury costs from that coverage instead.

Why Do People Drive Without a License?

Auto Accident Attorney

One of the first questions asked at the scene of an accident is to see each other’s driver’s license, registration, and insurance policy. When a party doesn’t possess any of these important pieces of evidence, you have to ask why? Why would anyone drive illegally? There are numerous reasons why unlicensed motorists take the risk of getting behind the wheel without proper licensing.

These reasons for not having a valid license could include:

  • Failing to have required auto insurance
  • Conviction of DUI/DWI offenses
  • Revoked licensing as a result of criminal convictions
  • Too many driving violations on their record
  • Underage driver
  • Medical conditions causing revocation of driving privileges
  • Newly immigrated to the U.S. and haven’t completed the licensing process
  • Failure of driver renewal due to age-related conditions

Drivers who still operate a vehicle without a license increase the risk of injury to those around them and can potentially devastate the lives of other drivers on the road.

tired man falling asleep at the wheel of his car

Protect Yourself During Accident Situations with an Unlicensed Driver

It’s essential to take quick action to protect yourself after a motor vehicle accident, whether a driver is licensed or not. You should take the following steps immediately after your accident to ensure no critical details are lost:

  • Contact law enforcement.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver
  • Take photographs of the damage at the scene
  • Gather witness contact details
  • File a police report
  • Get evaluated for injuries
  • Hire a reputable car accident attorney

If you experience a traumatic collision, contact a skilled accident attorney as soon as possible to work quickly and gather evidence for your compensation claim.

Experienced Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers

Those who experience the financial and medical uncertainty after a car accident because of the negligent driving of an unlicensed individual may feel there’s no chance of getting compensated. The insurance companies may be telling you no at every request, but this isn’t the only answer. Your serious bodily injuries and lost wages shouldn’t fall on your shoulders. At The Barnes Firm, we work tirelessly to pursue all avenues of financial compensation to meet your compensation needs. We understand that an accident can have a life-long effect on your job, family, and health.

Our firm’s best attorneys have represented accident victims for decades, and each of our top lawyers have extensive practice in car accident law involving unlicensed drivers. You can rely on our professional team of lawyers to represent your best interests and make those responsible for your injuries pay for their negligence. As members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, we work to maximize personal injury settlements, so our clients receive the care they need. Learn more about how our seasoned car accident legal team can help you by contacting us today.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000