What to Do When You're in a Car Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

What to Do When You’re in a Car Accident with an Unlicensed Driver

A study carried out by the AAF Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that unlicensed drivers cause 20% of all car accidents.  Yes, in this day and age, some people still operate a vehicle without a license. 

Imagine being in a car accident and discovering the other driver is unlicensed. You would assume that the unlicensed driver automatically takes the liability. Is that the case? What if you were the one at fault? Worse still, what if the vehicle they were driving isn’t theirs but borrowed?

It would help if you had answers to these crucial questions so that the day you ever get involved in a car accident with an unlicensed driver, you’ll know what to do.  

What to Do When You're in a Car Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
Photo by Matt Chesin on Unsplash

People who drive without a license

Most of the individuals who opt to drive without licenses belong to one of the following groups:

  • Individuals whose licenses were canceled because of reckless driving (i.e., DUIs) or due to medical conditions like seizures
  • Teens who have not yet gotten their driver’s license or haven’t attained the minimum age to apply for one.
  • Foreign nationals who haven’t acquired a driver’s license
  • Seniors who might have failed their driver’s license test because of age-related health issues like visual or cognitive impairment

Unlicensed drivers and liability

When it comes to liability, motor vehicle accidents involving unlicensed drivers are no different from other accidents. If you are the one who caused the accident, you will be liable for damages, such as medical bills and vehicle repairs. On the contrary, when the unlicensed driver causes an accident, he or she will be responsible for the damages. Now, things get complicated when the unlicensed driver in question isn’t insured.

Pursuing compensation for an accident caused by an unlicensed driver

Seeking damages for an accident caused by someone else’s careless or reckless driving can be challenging. If the driver involved was also unlicensed, it might be extremely overwhelming.  You may wonder how you will get compensated for your losses.

Unlicensed and uninsured drivers

Most insurance companies do not cover unlicensed drivers. Therefore, if an unlicensed driver causes the accident, they will personally be responsible for the damages incurred.

Unlicensed but insured

In a few exceptional cases, auto insurance for unlicensed drivers is available. Yes. Some scenarios allow people who don’t have a valid license to purchase automobile insurance.

For instance, this may happen where a person’s license has been revoked, but their vehicle is financed by a lending institution, so they have to keep it insured. Or where one needs to renew their car registration with the DMV, but it’s necessary to show proof of insurance coverage

For such scenarios, you might have some grounds to pursue compensation from an unlicensed driver via their insurance policy.

Unlicensed driver driving a borrowed car

If the at-fault unlicensed driver is driving a borrowed car, you might claim damages via the car owner’s insurance policy. However, if the at-fault, unlicensed driver took the car without permission, the insurance policy covering the car in question will not cover the damages.

As you might have realized, in all these situations, pursuing compensation for a motor vehicle accident caused by someone who doesn’t have a driving license is complicated. Thus, the big question should be, are you carrying sufficient insurance for the unexpected?

What to do when you are in a car accident with an unlicensed driver

Although getting involved in a motor vehicle accident can be upsetting and scary, you should take action to build the strongest case possible, particularly when the liable driver is unlicensed. Here are the steps you should take after a car wreck:

  • Contact the police – It is wise to involve the legal authority in the case, particularly if their other driver owns up to not having a license. Usually, the police case will act as vital evidence in your case.
  • Seek medical attention immediately – You should visit the doctor after the accident to ensure you are checked for any hidden injuries. These health records might come in handy when claiming damages.
  • Collect contact details – Note down the other driver’s name, contact details, and insurance information. In case their license is expired or revoked, go ahead and note that number. Also, collect the contact details of any witness present.  
  • Take pictures – Take photos of the accident’s scene, including the car damages, bodily injuries, etc.
  • Call a lawyer – Contact your lawyer to help you with your claim.  

How to protect yourself from unlicensed drivers

We have already seen that there are a few exceptional cases where unlicensed drivers are insured. However, in most instances, their insurance might only cover the bare minimum. As such, their policy limits are quickly exhausted, given today’s vehicle repair and medical treatment costs.    

So, what happens when the value of your claim exceeds the unlicensed driver’s liability coverage? That’s where the uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance comes in. This type of insurance policy is designed to cover your damages if the at-fault, unlicensed driver doesn’t have adequate coverage to do so.

The amount of coverage you require depends on several things, but generally, it comes down to the requirements set by your state, how much insurance you can afford, and how much risk you are ready to take.

But who is willing to take the risk when it comes to car accidents? The wise thing to do is carry an underinsured insurance cover, given the many underinsured drivers on our roads. Again, it doesn’t cost much to include it in your auto policy.