Driving a vehicle without a license is not only unlawful but has also been reported to increase the risk of car crash injury compared to those holding a driving license. In fact, according to a 2012 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 26 percent of the drivers involved in fatal car crashes in Texas are unlicensed.
While driving without a license is against Texas law, this does not mean that an unlicensed driver is always at fault when they’re involved in a car accident. Only if they are found liable for the accident will they be held responsible for paying any damages.
Most unlicensed drivers are uninsured, which can make the process of recovering damages complicated and confusing for you. That’s why it’s important that you seek help from a well-known DFW personal injury law firm like Thompson Law, so you can receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages.
Why Do People Drive Without a License?
Most of the people who choose to drive without licenses fall into one of the following categories:
- Teenagers who haven’t obtained a license yet or those below the minimum age requirements to apply for a driver’s license.
- Seniors who may have failed a driving test due to age-related conditions such as visual or cognitive impairment.
- Foreign nationals who haven’t yet obtained a driver’s license.
- Individuals who had their licenses revoked due to medical conditions like seizures, or because of careless or reckless driving (i.e., DUIs).
Unlicensed Drivers and Liability
According to Texas law, the status of your driver’s license doesn’t affect the determination of fault when you’re involved in a car accident. As such, car accidents involving an unlicensed driver will be handled just like any other accident. This means that if you are at-fault in the accident, you will be held responsible for paying all damages even if the other driver is unlicensed.
Similarly, if the unlicensed driver was at fault, they’ll be required to cover the cost of personal injuries and physical damages plus face a fine for driving without a license. In such a case, however, you need to know whether the car the unlicensed driver was driving is insured before you file a claim.
For instance, if an unlicensed driver causes an accident and is uninsured, they will have to pay you for the damages from their pockets. However, many of the unlicensed drivers don’t have the money to cover all the damages associated with a car accident, making it difficult to get the compensation you deserve. In this case, you may have to look to your own insurance company to cover damages through your UM/UIM coverage.
Also, if the unlicensed driver is driving a loaned vehicle that is insured, you can claim for damages with the owner’s insurance company under the Texas Negligent Entrustment law. But, if they stole the car or didn’t have permission to drive it, your insurer may have to cover damages.
Hiring a personal injury attorney after a car crash with an unlicensed and uninsured driver can help you assess all your potential options for damage recovery. This will prevent you from having to pay for your injuries and damages out of pocket.
The accident lawyers at Thompson Law are dedicated to relentlessly seek justice for you if you are injured in an accident involving an unlicensed driver.
Steps to Take When You’re Involved in an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
While getting involved in a car accident can be frightening and devastating, it is important that you take strategic action to have the strongest case possible, especially, when the at-fault driver is unlicensed. Some of the steps you should take immediately after the accident include:
- Call the Police: It is important to involve the police in the case, especially, if the other driver admits to not having a license. The police report will serve as crucial evidence in your case.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention: You should see a doctor immediately after the accident to ensure you’re properly treated and checked for any hidden injuries. The medical records will help you build a claim later.
- Collect Contact Details: Write down the name, contact information, and insurance information of the other driver. If their license is revoked or expired you can go ahead and record that number. If the driver is uninsured, but the vehicle is insured, you should also record those insurance details. Collect the contact information of any witnesses present when the accident occurred.
- Take Pictures: You should take photos of the scene of the accident including the damages on the cars and properties as well as pictures of your injuries.
- Call A Lawyer: A qualified personal injury attorney can help claim compensation in a car accident involving a driver without a license.
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How to Protect Yourself as an Unlicensed Driver
While it is possible to claim compensation when you’re involved in a car accident without a license, the other party’s insurer or defense attorney can bring up issues, denying you the compensation you deserve.
That said, you should consider getting a driver’s license soonest possible if you have never had one. You may also want to renew your license if it’s already expired or sort out any issues preventing you from having one. This will help your case with insurance companies as it prevents them from using your lack of a license against you.
Besides that, it is always recommended that you work with a qualified attorney if you’re involved in a car accident and you’re an unlicensed driver to help gather the necessary evidence to build a strong case to help prove the other person’s liability.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney at Thompson Law
According to Texas laws, driving without a license is illegal and could cost you a hefty fine or even result in imprisonment. Even worse, if an unlicensed driver causes a car crash, they may face serious liability claims alongside the punishment of driving without a license.
With that in mind, it is good to work with a personal injury lawyer to help you get the right compensation when you or your loved one sustains injuries from a car accident with an unlicensed driver.
At Thompson Law, our experienced team of personal injury attorneys is prepared to handle your car accident case on your behalf, including those that involve unlicensed drivers. We are a well-known Texas personal injury law firm that proudly serves families within the Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and surrounding areas.
We understand getting in a car accident can be frightening, devastating, and even downright confusing and that’s why we are here to help you during this difficult time. We will utilize all our available resources to vigorously pursue the insurance companies to obtain the compensation you deserve.