What To Do After a Car Accident Involving an Unlicensed Driver

We would all like to assume that our fellow drivers are law-abiding citizens. We get behind the wheel each day confident in our local laws and regulations. These require that motorists maintain an up to date license and insurance. While it’s true that many drivers follow the rules of the road, there are others who are not as respectful of the law. Some forgo their seat belt and neglect their insurance payments. Others flat out ignore the requirements to get their driver’s license. When a collision happens, there’s a one in five chance of the car accident involving an unlicensed driver. Unlicensed drivers commit more than 20% of all car accidents.

If that’s the case, getting due compensation might be a more arduous job than usual. And, depending on your specific scenario, you may have to take a different legal route than you expected.

Find out what you have to do down below.

Are Unlicensed Drivers Always At Fault?

There’s a common misconception that unlicensed drivers are automatically at-fault when involved in a car accident. Understanding who is at fault for a wreck is a crucial component of any car accident. Though complicated enough in its own right, throwing an unlicensed driver makes things even more confusing.

In the eyes of the law, driving without a license isn’t enough to be liable for a car accident. Liability lies in negligence. This means liability is with whoever was not driving responsibly at the time of the accident. Even if the other person didn’t have a driver’s license, you still have to prove in court that they caused the accident in the first place. Doing so is crucial to get due compensation, whether from the at-fault driver or an insurance company.

Keep in mind that if you are liable for the accident, you (or your insurance company) will have to pay for damages, not the unlicensed driver.

Why Are Unlicensed Drivers Problematic When It Comes To Insurance?

Someone who does not have a driver’s license may not have insurance, either. This is not always the case, however, as the unlicensed driver may be using someone else’s car. Insurance companies generally see unlicensed drivers as a risk and will opt not to give them coverage. 

If the at-fault driver does not have a license and drives a car with the permission of the car’s owner, you can seek damages from the owner’s insurance company. Since insurance follows the vehicle and not necessarily the driver, the company may be willing to pay for damage caused by the unlicensed driver. If there is any doubt about if the driver had permission from the car owner to use their vehicle, you may need to have an attorney do some investigating.
 
In some cases, the at-fault, unlicensed driver did not have permission to use the car in which they crashed. They are, in such instances, considered to be driving a stolen car. Any insurance held on the vehicle in question will not apply to a driver who did not have permission to drive it. You’ll likely need to file a claim with your own insurance company if you hope to recover any kind of damages associated with the wreck.

In case of an accident with an uninsured driver, it is a good idea to have comprehensive coverage of your own. Your insurance company will pay the damages and then seek compensation from the at-fault driver. If an unlicensed and uninsured driver is at fault for an accident, they will have to pay for damages out of pocket. Actually receiving this money can be very difficult. If your insurance coverage does not cover the accident, you will have to seek damages from the other driver. 

Because of that, we highly recommend hiring an attorney for this type of situation. You will, inevitably, go to court. This is when you will want an attorney who is familiar with your case by your side. 

Insurance Is Often Related To the Vehicle, Not the Driver

For most insurance companies, having a driver’s license is a prerequisite to get car insurance. That might make you think that all unlicensed drivers have no insurance, but that’s not necessarily true. A certain number of unlicensed drivers do not use their own car. Instead, they drive with someone else’s car – which could have insurance.

If you were in a car accident with an unlicensed driver who was driving someone else’s car, you can take your claim to court and get due compensation from the owner of the car’s insurance company. This scenario is only possible when the unlicensed driver uses a car with permission from the owner. Otherwise, the insurance would be null and void at the time of the accident, and no compensation would follow.

How Can I Get Compensation After a Car Accident With an Unlicensed Driver?

Dealing with the owner of the car

As you know, insurance is for the car, not the driver. If the unlicensed driver was not the owner of the vehicle, there’s a fair chance you will obtain money from the owner’s insurance company. That is, as long as the owner has insurance.

Once again, remember that this situation is only possible when the unlicensed driver is authorized to drive the car. A car collision with a stolen vehicle is not going to result in compensation from the car owner’s insurance company. A car accident involving an unlicensed driver where permission to drive the is unclear may require further investigation. 

Dealing with your insurance company

Uninsured motorist coverage is an option with some insurance companies. This is a safeguard for policyholders with concerns regarding the possibility of an accident with an uninsured driver. You may find yourself filing an uninsured motorist claim in the wake of a wreck involving an unlicensed driver. Your coverage may pay for:

  • repairs to your vehicle
  • medical bills
  • pain and suffering
Unfortunately, though, your insurance company may look for any reason to deny your claim. This is a situation in which you will want the assistance of a car accident attorney. 

Your uninsured motorist coverage should include the above mentioned and any other expenses that resulted from the accident. The at-fault driver may be expected to cover a portion of these expenses. If the other party has no money for damages, your insurance company should cover the entirety of your damages. The insurance company may choose to seek compensation from the at-fault driver after covering them upfront. 

Depending on your insurance company, there might be a limit for what you can receive as compensation.

Dealing with the unlicensed driver

If insurance companies are not an option for compensation, you can take the unlicensed driver to court. 

Unfortunately, some unlicensed drivers don’t have a driver’s license for a reason. They often lose their driving privileges because of DUI charges or any other misdemeanor. Another reason could be being unable to afford a license or being underage. It may be an uphill battle getting any kind of payment from them even if you win your case, but it’s not impossible. A judge can order their wages garnished so that you receive payments from each of their checks. They can also place a lien on their home if they own one or seize their property and sell it at auction.

In both scenarios, you will usually face a defendant who does not have a lot of money. Because of that, you’ll have to rely on your uninsured motorist coverage to get full compensation for your damages and trouble.

When Is the Right Time To Talk To a Lawyer?

 A car accident where all parties follow the law is pretty straightforward. The insurance companies take care of the issue soon after the incident.

Unfortunately, unlicensed drivers add more complications to an already stressful situation. You will need to figure out whether you have to talk to your insurance company, to a third party’s (the owner of the car you collided against) insurance company, or take the unlicensed driver to court.

In the event of a court case, you will need expert legal counsel by your side. Insurance companies often will try to get out of paying with an unlicensed driver involved – and that includes the company you’ve hired.

Most legal professionals suggest talking to a car accident attorney soon after the accident. Do so after you’ve dealt with the immediate tasks, such as making sure everyone is okay, exchanging information, documenting the accident, and filing a police report. That way, you can start to figure out how to deal with this unfortunate situation in a proper manner as soon as possible.

Being in a car crash is a traumatic experience. What follows may be a lot of stress and anxiety. To make matters worse, being in a car accident with an unlicensed driver turns a troubling scenario into a chaotic one.

If you’re curious about your options moving forward, consider checking out Lawsuit Info Center’s accident settlement calculator. Though it can’t factor in the likelihood of an unlicensed driver paying what they owe, it can help you better understand how much the case has cost you and how much an insurance company may be able to compensate you. Hiring a lawyer is sometimes the best way to get peace of mind. Schedule a free consultation today and we can help you find a car accident lawyer who will help you after your car accident involving an unlicensed driver.