Driving without a license can have serious consequences in California, especially after a car accident. What happens next depends on the details of the crash, your driving history, how you negotiate with the insurance company, and whether your lawyer has the right kind of expertise.
Don’t give up hope! You can still pursue a claim for accident compensation whether you’re a licensed driver or not.
Of course, the insurance company will argue that if you were unlicensed, you were uninsurable. This complicates your claim and brings California’s Proposition 213 into the discussion, which we’ll explain in more detail below.
Penalties for Driving Without a License
First, you’re probably wondering whether driving without a license is a crime. Yes, it can be. The police can cite you with a $250 ticket for driving without a license or they can pursue it as a prosecutable misdemeanor offense.
The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor traffic offense in the state of California is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. That could significantly shake up your life and impact your family, job, and ability to move forward from the crash.
If you have previous offenses, you’re even more likely to face legal penalties that escalate in terms of fines and potential jail time. For example, if you’re a habitual traffic offender who lost your license in the past, the courts will probably come down harder on you now.
Plus, if you hurt someone or damaged their vehicle, that person might use your failure to have a license as additional evidence against you in a civil action. This could set off a legal battle where you’ll need excellent representation from a California car accident lawyer who handles cases involving unlicensed drivers.
Does Not Having a License Impact My Settlement?
Now let’s look at what happens when you’re pursuing an accident settlement as compensation for your losses. You might be wondering whether your lack of license matters.
Yes, not having a license impacts a potential settlement award, even if you’re not at fault for the accident. Look at it this way: The insurance company is a for-profit business that’s always looking to minimize its payouts.
When calculating an offer, they’ll seize any opportunity to lower the dollar amount. They’ll look at your lack of a driver’s license, view you as uninsurable, and say you deserve less money because you weren’t a licensed driver.
Unfortunately, the law is on their side. Under California Proposition 213, an unlicensed driver is eligible only for reimbursement of their economic damages, like lost wages and medical bills, and is barred from receiving money for pain, suffering, disfigurement, or disability. This lowers your potential settlement substantially.
But it’s not the end of the story! A talented traffic accident lawyer knows the games insurance companies play and can help you seek the maximum compensation possible for your medical costs. We may also be able to negotiate with your medical providers to lower or eliminate your outstanding medical bills.
You Still Have Rights After a Car Accident!
Driving without a license is the wrong thing to do, but it doesn’t take away your rights after an accident. You still have the right to pursue compensation from someone who hurt you. And you still have the right to a good lawyer!
At Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers, we have compassion for people who have been injured in traffic accidents. Contact us for a free consultation about your accident and don’t let your lack of a license stop you from claiming the compensation you deserve.
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including accidents involving unlicensed drivers. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.