Navigating the world of automobile insurance following a car accident can be stressful and confusing. More so if one of the parties in the accident was driving without a valid driver’s license.
Unlicensed drivers are surprisingly common on U.S. roadways. A press release issued by the Insurance Research Council reported that one out of every eight drivers in the United States drove without a valid license in 2015.
Several variables come into play when a driver is involved in a car accident without a license or insurance. In general, insurance follows the vehicle rather than the driver. This means that as long as the car being driven was insured, then the insurance company should cover the losses; however, there are exceptions.
Insurance Coverage Exceptions
An insurance company may deny a claim if an unlicensed driver used a vehicle owned by someone else without permission, or if he or she was expressly excluded from the insurance policy on the car.
Additionally, if you allow an unlicensed driver to operate your vehicle and he or she has an accident, your insurance company may reject your claim. This could leave you on the hook for high financial costs and in some states your vehicle may be impounded for up to 30 days.
Someone who formerly had a driver’s license and car insurance may not realize that when his or her driver’s license becomes invalid, the vehicle’s insurance coverage is also terminated.
Driving Without a License is Illegal
According to transportation code law, everyone who operates a motor vehicle on public roads must have a valid driver’s license and must carry it on them while driving. A misdemeanor charge may be issued for violating this statute.
Although it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license, there are situations where it can still happen. The driver may have had his or her license suspended or revoked, or the individual may have never had a driver’s license.
Who Was at Fault?
Many states, including Texas, have “at fault” insurance laws. This means the at-fault driver in an accident is liable for the damages.
If the at-fault driver does not have a license, the insurance company may pursue financial reimbursement. Additionally, other individuals involved in the accident may file civil lawsuits against the driver to recover damages over and above what is covered by insurance.
If the at-fault driver is licensed, his or her insurance company will cover damages regardless of whether other drivers in the accident were licensed.
Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney
If you were in a car accident with an unlicensed driver, or if you were driving without a license at the time of your accident, talk to a personal injury attorney. He or she will review your case and advise you on the best way to preserve your rights.