What Happens When an Unlicensed Driver Gets in an Accident?
The first thing to note is that an unlicensed driver who is involved in a car crash is not always liable simply because he or she is unlicensed. Instead, liability depends on whether or not the driver was negligent. In other words, whether or not the unlicensed driver is at fault will depend on whether he or she failed to act responsibly in some way while driving.
Insurance companies normally require people to have drivers’ licenses before they will insure their vehicles. Many policies also include provisions that deny coverage when drivers are unlicensed or are driving on suspended licenses. Below are some options for what happens when an unlicensed driver gets in an accident.
Lawsuit Can Be Filed Against the Unlicensed Driver
If an unlicensed driver caused your accident and is uninsured, you can file a lawsuit against him or her. However, many unlicensed drivers do not have enough money to pay for damages in a car accident. If an unlicensed driver does not have enough money or resources to pay damages in a lawsuit, he or she might not be a good recovery source for compensation.
Uninsured Motorists Coverage
If the unlicensed driver does not have insurance, you can turn to your own insurance company to recover compensation. All motorists in Missouri are required to carry uninsured motorists coverage of at least $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident. This means that you could recover compensation under your policy if an unlicensed and uninsured driver causes an accident in which you are injured.
Recovering Compensation from Third Parties
Two other situations might allow you to recover compensation from third parties when an unlicensed driver causes your car crash. If an unlicensed teen causes an accident while driving his or her family’s car, you could hold the teen’s parents liable under the family car doctrine.
Similarly, if the unlicensed driver borrowed someone else’s vehicle with the other person’s permission, you might be able to hold the owner liable under a negligent entrustment theory. To prove the owner’s liability, you will have to show that the owner knew or reasonably should have known that the driver was incompetent but still loaned the vehicle to him or her, proximately causing the accident.
Finally, if an unlicensed driver is driving his or her employer’s work vehicle during the course and scope of his or her employment, the employer might be liable. Employers are vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees while they are working. They can also be found to be directly liable when they negligently hire, supervise, and retain incompetent employees. If an employer negligently failed to verify the status of an employee’s license but allowed him or her to drive for work, the employer could be directly liable to pay damages to a victim who is injured in an accident caused by the unlicensed employee.
Protect Yourself If You Are Hit by an Unlicensed Driver
Any time you are involved in a car accident, there are specific steps you should take. You should do the following things regardless of whether or not the at-fault motorist has a license or insurance:
- Call the police and report the accident.
- Get the other driver’s name and contact details.
- Ask to see the registration for the vehicle to see if it is owned by someone else.
- Write down the other car’s license plate number, make, and model.
- Take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to both vehicles.
- Check yourself and others for injuries.
- Get any witnesses’ names and contact details.
- Seek medical attention.
Make sure that you have sufficient UM/UIM coverage as a part of your insurance policy. While all drivers must carry UM coverage, UIM coverage is optional in Missouri. Ask your insurance agent about this additional coverage to protect you when you are involved in an accident with an underinsured driver.
Finally, talk to an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave for help with handling an accident caused by an unlicensed driver by calling 417-322-2222.