What Happens if You Drive Without a License and Get Into an Accident?

A man in an accident without a license

Driving without a license can come with serious legal penalties. Not only could you be facing criminal charges or traffic citations, but you could also be held liable for the other involved party’s damages if you caused the collision. It is important to note that driving without a license does not necessarily mean you are responsible for causing the accident. You may have suffered severe bodily injury, emotional distress, and significant financial losses related to an accident that was not your fault. Unlicensed drivers still have the right to compensation for their damages.

Trust in a highly experienced car accident lawyer from The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys to hold the at-fault party accountable to the full extent of the law. Request a 100% free consultation to find out more about who could be sued for your damages, what to expect from the claims process, and how much your claim could be worth.

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Steps to Take After an Accident as an Unlicensed Driver

As an unlicensed driver, here’s what to do immediately after a collision:

  • Do not flee the accident scene
  • Call the police
  • Request an ambulance
  • Begin collecting evidence at the accident scene
  • Contact a car accident attorney for help
Do not talk about the accident on social media. You do not want to risk missing out on the compensation you are entitled to because something you said or posted was misconstrued by the defense.

Why Motorists Might Not Have Their License in a Car Accident

There are many reasons why motorists may not have their license prior to the collision. Some of the most valid reasons include:

  • Forgetting your license at home
  • Misplacing your wallet which carries your driver’s license
  • Having your driver’s license revoked, or suspended
  • Your driver’s license expired

You Have Rights as an Unlicensed Driver When The Accident Is Not Your Fault

We must be able to prove that someone else is responsible for causing the accident if you are unlicensed. The other involved parties will likely attempt to take advantage of the fact that you do not have a driver’s license. Your car accident attorney with The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys will conduct an intensive investigation into the cause of your accident. This way, we can identify all potentially liable parties and hold them accountable. Some of the top causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Drunk driving
  • Road hazards
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while fatigued
  • Traffic violations
  • Lack of road maintenance
  • Defective motor vehicle parts

Reckless drivers, the California Department of Transportation, auto parts manufacturers and distributors, and other third parties could all be found liable depending on what caused the collision. Our team will work tirelessly to build the strongest case possible so your unlicensed driver status has minimal impact on the outcome of your claim.

Criminal Penalties For Driving Without a License in CA

Your ability to pursue compensation for your damages when you are not at fault for the car accident is not determined by your licensure status. Unfortunately, you may still face criminal charges or traffic citations for operating a motor vehicle without a driver’s license. According to California Vehicle Code § 12500(a), a first-time unlicensed driver may be subject to:

  • Loss of your right to secure a driver’s license
  • A mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail
  • Fines of up to $2,500

However, second-time offenders will face increased penalties. Not only will your right to receive a driver’s license be suspended, but you could also spend up to one year in jail and pay fines of as much as $25,000.

Unlicensed Drivers May Still Be Entitled to Fair Compensation

Just because you do not have a license does not mean the liable party will get away with negligence. In fact, unless you are responsible for causing the accident, your unlicensed driver status will have nothing to do with your car accident claim. You may be able to file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy under California fault insurance laws according to California Insurance Code – INS § 11580.1.

Your insurance settlement is unlikely to cover your damages in full. For this reason, it may be in your best interests to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit. There is no limit to the amount of compensation you can recover by filing a civil claim. When you file a claim with the insurance company, you only have access to a limited amount of coverage based on the policyholder’s coverage limits. Damages the insurance company does not cover can often only be recouped by filing a lawsuit in civil court.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are more easily quantified. They describe all financial losses and can be calculated by verifying financial records, receipts, quotes, medical bills, and other documents. Examples of frequently awarded economic damages in motor vehicle accident claims include:

  • Hospital bills
  • Diagnostic testing fees
  • Your hospital stay
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Specialist services
  • Prescription medication
  • Medical devices
  • Regular home healthcare
  • Medical home accommodations
  • Wheelchair ramps, wheelchairs, and specialized bathtubs
  • Prosthetic limbs
  • Medical treatment and care in the future
  • Lost wages, tips, and salaries
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Loss of paid time off, including sick leave or vacation pay
  • Household maintenance expenses
  • Loss of health insurance coverage from your employer
  • Unexpected childcare expenses
  • Loss of retirement savings contributions matched by your employer

Non-Economic Damages

You have the right to be awarded compensation for every single loss. Non-economic damages are described under California Civil Code 1431.2 and include intangible losses. Their value is completely subjective since they do not have fixed financial values.

Just because the value of non-economic damages can fluctuate does not mean they should not be included as part of your settlement. Some of the most commonly awarded non-economic damages in car accident claims include

  • The development of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Symptoms of anxiety or depression
  • Intense physical pain related to your car accident injuries
  • Feelings of inconvenience or discomfort
  • Feelings of anticipation, apprehension, or fear
  • Skin scarring that leaves you feeling embarrassed or ashamed of your reflection
  • Damage to your personal or professional reputations
  • Disfigurement and permanent disabilities
  • Loss of society, companionship, support, advice, guidance, and love
  • Feelings of shame, indignity, or shock
  • Reduced quality of life or inability to complete daily living tasks without help

California does not have a cap on the maximum amount of compensation you can be awarded for non-economic damages in car accident claims. This means you have a chance to be reimbursed for every single way your life has been turned upside down by your catastrophic injuries.

The Statute of Limitations is Counting Down

Even though you may have concerns about how your life will be affected by getting into a car accident as an unlicensed driver, you should not let that hold you back from pursuing your claim. According to California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, you only have up to two years from the date of your collision to file your lawsuit.

This is just a general rule. Extenuating circumstances may allow this deadline to be tolled, or paused temporarily. This occurs most often in situations where minors are diagnosed with injuries related to the accident. The statute of limitations could be tolled until you reach the age of 18 and can file a personal injury lawsuit on your own behalf. The countdown will resume when you reach the age of 18 and expire two years later.

Do not wait to get started on your car accident case simply because you are unlicensed. Certain types of evidence are only available for a limited amount of time. We may lose access to video footage of the collision and other forensic evidence that could be used to prove the defendant’s liability. Contacting a powerful personal injury attorney after a car accident as an unlicensed driver should be a top priority.

What Happens if You Get in an Accident Without a License

According to California Vehicle Code § 12500, all motorists must have a valid driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle. This means if you are involved in an accident without your license, you could face serious penalties. That does not mean you will be prohibited from filing a claim against the liable party’s insurance policy or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. Do not be surprised if your license status does not factor into whether you receive a settlement.

Car Accident Without a License FAQ

If you were recently involved in a car accident and were driving without a license, you may be seriously concerned about your ability to pursue compensation for your damages. However, you really only need to be concerned if you are responsible for causing the accident.

If you are not to blame, your status as an unlicensed driver will not necessarily impact your right to reimbursement for your suffering. We want you to feel empowered to take action against the liable party. Our legal team with The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys has compiled a quick FAQ that discusses some of the most common questions regarding car accidents without a license below. Additional questions can be discussed during your 100% free consultation.

What happens if you let an unlicensed driver drive your car in CA?

If you let an unlicensed motorist operate your vehicle and they are involved in a collision, you may be held accountable if they are found liable for causing the accident. This means you may be ordered to compensate the injury victims for their damages in full.

However, since California follows fault insurance laws, the at-fault party may file a claim against your auto insurance policy first. If the unlicensed driver did not cause the accident, they may be able to sue the at-fault party for their damages. If this is the case, apart from potentially filing a no-fault insurance claim through your insurance provider if you carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, your life may otherwise remain unaffected by the accident.

What happens if you get in a car accident with only a permit?

To get a permit in the state of California, you must be at least 15.5 years old but under the age of 18 according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. If you are involved in an accident, your parents may be held accountable for the injury victim’s damages if you are found liable. However, if you are not at fault for the accident, the driver who hit you or another liable party could be sued for your damages.

When is an unlicensed driver in an accident not at fault in California?

Your license status will have no impact on whether you are found liable for causing the accident. Instead, you can expect law enforcement officials and your car accident attorney to carefully evaluate the evidence at hand and the circumstances of your case to identify the individual or entity responsible for causing the accident.

If you are not found responsible for causing the collision, the defense may attempt to bring up your license status in the hopes of reducing their financial liability. Unless you were driving recklessly, dangerously, or with gross negligence, the at-fault party may be unsuccessful in taking advantage of the state’s pure comparative negligence laws under California Civil Code 1714.

Connect With Orange County’s Premier Car Accident Law Firm Today

Do not be surprised if the other involved party attempts to blame you for the accident. When they find out you were an unlicensed driver, they may attempt to use this against you and avoid being held accountable for their negligent actions. Working with a strategically aggressive Orange County car accident attorney from The Text Kevin Accident Attorneys may be the best way to refute their claims and recover the compensation you are entitled to.

You should not be stuck covering the costs when another party is to blame. Demand justice. Contact our law office to request a no-cost, risk-free consultation when you fill out our confidential contact form, or call our office to get started on your case as soon as today.

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett

Kevin Crockett is an award-winning personal injury lawyer who understands the impact an accident can have on someone’s life. That’s why he aggressively fights for each of his clients.

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