The worst has happened: you were in a not-at-fault car accident that left you with significant damage and injuries. Upon talking with the other driver and the police officer at the scene, you learn that the at-fault driver is unlicensed.
So what happens next?
Being involved in an accident with an unlicensed driver can complicate your accident case, but working with a qualified NYC car accident lawyer can help. First, read ahead to learn everything you need to know when an unlicensed driver in an accident is at fault. Then contact our car accident lawyer in NYC for assistance.
Unlicensed Driver Accident Scenarios
Why would someone operate a vehicle without a license? Unfortunately, this scenario is more common in New York than you may think.
According to Melinda Katz, Queens District Attorney, accidents involving unlicensed drivers are on the rise in Queens County. In 2021, 2,738 of these accidents occurred. In 2022, the year-end totals are projected to be close to 28% higher than the 2021 totals.
People operate vehicles unlicensed for a few different reasons. Understanding the scenario leading to your unlicensed car crash can help you determine the best way to navigate your accident case.
Unlicensed & Uninsured Driver
Unlicensed drivers are typically uninsured. While getting car insurance without a license is possible, most companies do not insure unlicensed drivers, making it challenging for these drivers to find coverage.
If an unlicensed and uninsured driver was at fault in your accident, you will not be able to receive a payout from their insurance company. Instead, you’ll need to contact your own insurance company or take legal action against the at-fault driver.
Unlicensed & Driving a Borrowed Vehicle
Young unlicensed motorists sometimes bring their parents’ cars out for a joyride — leading to harsh consequences. A 2020 study found that 50 percent of young motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes were unlicensed or riding without a valid license.
If the unlicensed driver responsible for your crash was driving a borrowed vehicle, and that vehicle is insured, you may be able to receive compensation from the owner’s insurance policy.
However, one crucial element to consider in this case is permission. If the driver had permission from the vehicle owner, their insurance could cover you. If they did not have permission, the police would treat the accident as a stolen vehicle case.
Unlicensed & Driving a Stolen Vehicle
If an unlicensed driver was involved in an accident while driving a stolen vehicle, the vehicle owner would not put the claim on their insurance policy. Instead, you’d need to seek compensation from your own insurer or through a different means.
Drunk & Unlicensed Driver
Unfortunately, a significant number of unlicensed crashes involve drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This combination can be deadly.
Unlicensed drivers who operate their vehicles under the influence of drugs may have had their licenses suspended previously for similar behavior. Alternatively, they may have never received a license and chose to drive because their decision-making abilities were impaired.
Are Unlicensed Drivers Automatically Liable?
You may assume that an unlicensed driver would automatically be liable in a car accident. But this isn’t necessarily true.
As with any accident case, the liability falls on the negligent driver or drivers. If you caused an accident with an unlicensed driver, you would be liable, even though they were driving without a license.
As such, you and your attorney must prove that the unlicensed driver was liable to seek compensation. New York is a comparative negligence state, meaning that all parties involved in an accident can be partially responsible. Your liability percentage negatively correlates with the amount of compensation you can seek.
The police officer who comes to the accident scene may seek to determine who is at fault. Alternatively, this responsibility may fall on the insurance company.
Your attorney can help you prove negligence when an unlicensed driver in an accident is at fault.
What to Do After an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
The minutes, hours, and days after a car accident can be stressful and overwhelming, but what you do with them can positively or negatively affect your case outcomes. Here’s what to do after an accident with an unlicensed driver.
1. Call the Police
You may not initially know that the other driver is unlicensed after an accident. When the police arrive at the scene, they will ask for your license and registration along with the other driver’s. If the driver cannot produce a valid license, the truth will quickly come to light.
The police officer will also create a police report detailing the accident. You can use this report down the line as evidence in your insurance claim or lawsuit.
2. Obtain the Other Driver’s Contact Information
Before you leave the scene, be sure to obtain the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information (if they’re insured).
3. Take Photos of the Accident Scene
If you’re able to, take photos of your vehicle, the other driver’s vehicle, and the overall accident scene. These can prove useful during your insurance claim or lawsuit.
4. Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine after the crash, we recommend seeking medical treatment as soon as possible. You may have underlying injuries that will only worsen with time. Additionally, your medical records can serve as evidence in your accident case.
5. Determine Whether to File an Insurance Claim
If the unlicensed driver has insurance, their insurer should reach out to you within a few days of the accident. If not, you can contact your own insurer to determine whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage can provide funds in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Your attorney can also advise you on whether to take legal action against the unlicensed driver to seek compensation.
6. Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Finally, contact a qualified car accident attorney to guide you through the next steps.
Whether you’ve been in a workers’ compensation car accident at work or a crash in your personal vehicle, you should hold the negligent driver financially responsible. Our attorneys at Ross & Hill can help you navigate your accident case and seek compensation from the at-fault, unlicensed driver.