What Happens if an Unlicensed Driver Causes a Car Accident?

Driving without a license is a crime that can result in fines and even imprisonment. You might assume, then, that when one of the drivers in a car accident is unlicensed, the accident is automatically their fault. After all, without a license, they should not have been on the road in the first place. And if they hadn’t been on the road, they could not have been involved in a crash.

But that’s not the way it works—in Florida or anywhere else. Under most circumstances, fault for an accident and the driver’s license status are separate issues. You cannot simply assume that the unlicensed driver was at fault. In most cases, however, fault is irrelevant in a Florida car accident

Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System

If you’re involved in a Florida car accident, you must look to your own mandatory PIP insurance to pay your medical expenses and lost earnings – unless your injuries are serious or if another exception applies (in which case you can take legal action against the other driver). 

If the other driver lacked a license, their crime should not affect how you handle your claim. Even if it was you who were driving without a license, this shouldn’t affect your PIP claim. PIP is tied to the vehicle, not the driver.

Exiting Florida’s No-Fault System

If your injuries are serious enough (or if a different exception applies, as there are more than one), Florida will allow you to exit the no-fault system and sue the at-fault driver for damages

Unlike the case with a PIP claim, however, you can also sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. To win, you will have to prove that the other driver was at fault. 

Florida’s liability insurance problem

Florida is one of only a few states that does not require its drivers to purchase liability insurance. Of course, this doesn’t matter for a PIP claim. 

If the at-fault driver causes serious injuries, however, the seriously injured driver can sue the at-fault driver. If the at-fault driver lacks liability insurance, their personal assets, such as their home, could be at risk in a car accident lawsuit.

Driver’s license status and auto accident liability insurance

If you apply for auto accident liability insurance without a driver’s license, the insurance company might refuse to insure you. On the other hand, if you own a car, they might agree to insure you as long as you list a licensed driver as the primary driver for the car. They might even insure you without a driver’s license and without a licensed driver as the primary driver. 

If you carry liability insurance and lose your driver’s license, your liability insurance should still cover your liability even if you cause an accident while driving without a license. Nevertheless, talk to the insurance company about this, and don’t try to hide anything. Carefully read the terms of your liability insurance policy.

What Happens if Someone Who Doesn’t Have a Driver’s License Crashes Your Car?

In this case, the insurance policy would probably cover the accident. Read the terms of your policy just to make sure.

If You Knowingly Loaned Out Your Car to an Unlicensed Driver

If you loaned out your car to an unlicensed driver, your insurance would likely still cover the accident, but you might face higher insurance premiums in the future. The unlicensed driver could face criminal charges. 

You could potentially be held liable for negligence if you knowingly loaned your car to an unlicensed driver. In the event that the victim suffers a “serious” injury (and therefore qualifies to exit the PIP no-fault system), they can sue both the vehicle owner (you) and the at-fault unlicensed driver for full personal injury damages.

If an Unlicensed Driver Stole Your Car

Normally,you would not bear liability for damages arising from an accident caused by an unlicensed driver who stole your car. You might bear liability if you were negligent, however – such as by leaving your car idling in a high-crime neighborhood while you handled another task.

In any case, your insurance company may or may not cover damages to your car. Check the terms of your policy. 

You Might Need a Lawyer To Resolve Your Claim

Unlicensed driver car accident scenarios can get complex. Unless the value of the claim is trivial, you should definitely seek the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer. Set up a free case review and learn about your next steps.

Contact Our Gainesville Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Gainesville car accident lawyers at Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258