What To Do If You are Hit by an Unlicensed Driver
Because of the risks involved with driving, all drivers in the United States, including Washington State, are required to have a driver’s license to operate a vehicle. Unfortunately, there is always a percentage of people who don’t comply. At any given time, there are people driving on U.S. roads without a valid license; most often because their license was suspended or revoked. This selfish choice puts other drivers on the road with them at risk of being hit by an unlicensed driver.
Car accidents involving unlicensed drivers
According to a study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2000, drivers without a valid license are responsible for 20 percent of all automobile accidents. The NHTSA estimates that 5 to 6 million car accidents happen in the U.S. every year. This means that unlicensed drivers are involved in approximately 1.1 million accidents and thousands of fatalities annually. The same study found that approximately three percent of all drivers are unlicensed. The majority of people driving without a license had a revoked or suspended license, followed by people driving with a cancelled or expired license; while some never had a license to begin with.
What happens if you are hit by an unlicensed driver? Will you be able to collect a settlement for your injuries and property damage? We’re going to take a look at how to proceed after an accident with an unlicensed driver and whether you need the help of a car accident lawyer.
Determining fault in a car accident involving an unlicensed driver
One common question that we get is whether fault for the accident is determined based on whether one of the drivers was unlicensed. The answer is no, fault will be determined in the same way it would be if both drivers had current drivers’ licenses.
If you were involved in a car accident with an unlicensed driver, you are entitled to file an accident claim the same as you would if the driver was licensed, but don’t assume that the other driver will automatically be at-fault.
What to do if You Are Hit by an Unlicensed Driver
If you were involved in an accident with an unlicensed driver, you should proceed with your accident claim just like you would for an accident that involved two licensed drivers. Take these steps right after the accident:
- Call the police for an accident report; they will handle the unlicensed driver.
- Share contact and insurance information with the other driver
- Get contact information for any witnesses
- Take pictures of your vehicle and the scene of the accident
- Seek medical care
- Call your insurer to report the accident
- Contact a local car accident attorney for advice
One thing to be aware of is that unlicensed drivers are more likely to also not have motor vehicle insurance. Washington State law requires all drivers to maintain a minimum level of liability insurance in case they are involved in an accident. If you were hit by an unlicensed driver who does not have insurance, you will need to file a claim through your own uninsured motorist coverage and/or use your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. You may also be able to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver with the help of a personal injury lawyer.
You are entitled to a settlement that compensates you for your losses. In complicated cases, such as those involving unlicensed and/or uninsured motorists, it is a really good idea to work with an accident attorney who can calculate the true value of your claim and advocate on your behalf. They will handle every aspect of your claim from investigating and gathering evidence to prove liability to negotiating for a fair settlement and so much more.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!