What If You’re Hit by an Unlicensed Driver in California?

What If You’re Hit by an Unlicensed Driver in California?

According to a study by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, unlicensed drivers are three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than their licensed counterparts.

If you’re hit by an unlicensed driver, you need to know what happens next. Our San Bernardino car accident lawyers explain.

What Happens if You’re Hit by an Unlicensed Driver in California?

If you’re hit by an unlicensed driver in California:

1. Seek medical attention

Contact emergency responders if anyone is injured in the crash.

2. Reporting the crash and criminal charges

Report the accident to the police. The driver may be charged with operating without a license.

Several different charges may apply, like driving with no license or driving with a suspended license. Law enforcement will investigate the causes of the crash and, if appropriate, issue charges against the unlicensed driver.

3. Insurance may apply

Usually, an unlicensed driver isn’t insured, but it’s possible. If someone else owns the vehicle, their insurance may cover the accident. The insurance may follow the vehicle. Many policies exclude unlicensed drivers or exclude certain individuals. You’ll need to investigate the policy to determine if there is coverage that applies when you are hit by an unlicensed driver.

4. Look to file with your own uninsured or underinsured policy

If the unlicensed driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance, you can claim your insurance. Your uninsured or underinsured policy may apply in a situation where the driver who hit you doesn’t have insurance. In California, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is not required, but it must be specifically waived, so you may have this type of insurance.

5. The same standards of fault apply

Ultimately, the fault for the accident is what determines liability to pay compensation – not simply the fact that the driver is unlicensed.

To receive compensation, you must prove that the driver is at fault for the accident because of negligence. Traffic violations are negligence – actions like disobeying a stop sign, improper lane changes, proceeding without the right of way, and other common causes of collisions.

Getting compensated for a crash involves two important steps – proving your right to compensation and finding sources of compensation. Don’t overlook the importance of preserving evidence and building your case.

6. File a legal claim

The driver who hit you may be directly responsible for paying damages. Usually, when a driver hits someone, it’s their insurance that pays. However, if the person doesn’t have insurance because they are unlicensed, they may be personally liable. A lawyer can help you investigate whether a legal claim against them is a possibility.

7. Consider third parties with legal liability

Sometimes, there is a third party with legal liability for an accident. For example, the unlicensed driver may have been driving their company vehicle without their employers’ permission. A family member may have allowed the unlicensed driver to use the car knowing they didn’t have a license. These parties can be responsible for allowing the unlicensed person access to the vehicle.

Charges for an Unlicensed Driver Who Hits Someone in California

Driving without a valid license – CVC § 12500

It is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle on a public road without a valid driver’s license. An offense may be charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, or an infraction, punishable by a $250 fine.

Driving on a suspended license – CVC § 14601.1

When someone’s license has been suspended, there is a different charge than driving without a valid license. Driving on a suspended license is a violation of CVC § 14601.1. The offense is driving a motor vehicle when the person’s license is suspended or revoked and the person has knowledge of the suspension. Knowledge is presumed if state officials mail notice of the suspension. A first offense is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $300-$1,000 fine.

Failing to display a license – CVC § 12951

A driver must have their license on their person when operating a vehicle. Failing to display the license when required by a law enforcement officer is a violation of CVC § 12951(b).

Allowing an unlicensed person to drive – CVC § 14604

A person who owns a car must take reasonable steps to make sure that anyone they loan it to has a valid license. They don’t have to run an official license check, but they must make a reasonable inquiry. An owner may be charged with this offense even though they are not the one driving the vehicle.

In addition to being charged for driving without a license, an unlicensed driver may be charged with any traffic offenses that they commit. These criminal charges and infractions are in addition to any liability to pay damages.

Get Legal Help

LA Century Law is a premier law firm representing accident victims in compensation claims. Call our offices or message us online now to talk about your case against an unlicensed driver.

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