What Happens When an Unlicensed Driver in Fort Lauderdale Causes a Car Accident?

When an unlicensed driver causes a car accident, the fact that the driver is unlicensed is irrelevant to the issue of fault. The reasoning that “It was the unlicensed driver’s fault because they wouldn’t have been on the road in the first place if they had been obeying the law” doesn’t float. Nevertheless, the absence of a valid driver’s license can affect insurance and compensation issues.

First Things First: How Florida’s No-Fault System Works

Florida is a “no-fault” auto insurance state. Under Florida’s no-fault rules, you must purchase PIP insurance with maximum coverage limits of no lower than $10,000. If you suffer a car accident, you must look to your insurance first, regardless of fault. Florida PIP insurance will compensate 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost earnings, among other expenses. PIP will not cover non-economic damages.

You cannot sue the at-fault driver or file a third-party claim against their insurance policy unless your injuries are serious enough to allow you to exit the no-fault system and file an ordinary personal injury lawsuit. Even then, Florida law imposes obstacles-–it is one of only two states that does not require its drivers to purchase bodily injury liability insurance.

Double Liability

In cases where the at-fault driver does not currently hold a valid driver’s license, it is not only the driver who is liable. Both the owner and the driver of the vehicle could be liable to compensate you for any damages they caused to you or your property. That doesn’t mean you get double compensation. It just means that if one party cannot pay your claim in full, you might be able to seek the remainder of your compensation from the other party.

The Unlicensed Driver Was Driving a Car They Borrowed From a Relative

If the at-fault driver was driving without a license using a car they borrowed from a relative in their household, the relative’s policy will cover the losses (up to policy limits) as long as the at-fault driver had permission to use the car.

The Unlicensed Driver Was Driving a Stolen Car

Obviously, nobody gives their permission to steal their car-–if they did, it wouldn’t be theft. If a car thief caused the accident that injured you, the car’s insurance policy will not reimburse you. If the at-fault insurance company will not compensate you for an accident with someone who stole the car they were driving.  secondary policy on another vehicle, you might seek compensation from that policy might seek compensation from that policy. Otherwise, you might seek compensation for the thief’s personal assets.

Steps to Take After the Accident

Take the following steps after an accident to the extent you are able:

  • Get the car’s plate number and a description of both the car and the driver.
  • Call 911 to summon the police and the ambulance, and don’t leave the scene of the accident until they get there (even if the at-fault driver does). 
  • Draw a diagrammatic sketch of the crash, and include a brief description of how the crash happened while the details are still fresh in your mind. Include the direction the cars were traveling and a map of the location of the accident.
  • Order a copy of the police report. You can’t use it as evidence in court, but you can use it during settlement negotiations.
  • Get insurance details from the at-fault driver if they didn’t flee the scene of the accident.
  • Obtain the driver’s personal details, including name, address, and phone number.
  • Photograph both vehicles and any injuries.
  • Tell the police if the at-fault driver told you they were driving without a license.

The two most important steps you can take after this are to (i) seek immediate medical attention and (ii) schedule an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. 

Criminal Penalties

The at-fault driver may face criminal penalties for driving without a license, regardless of whether they caused an accident. If they caused the accident, the judge might sentence them to harsher punishment. The judge might require the at-fault party to pay you restitution out of their own pocket if they have the financial resources to do so. 

Yes, You Need a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorney

Under normal circumstances, you might not need a lawyer to handle a small claim for you. However, the complications arising from an accident with an unlicensed driver are likely to render hiring a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer a practical necessity. If your claim is large, you have all that much more reason to hire a lawyer. Personal injuries work on a contingency fee-–you only pay if you win.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in South Florida

If you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the Boca Raton car accident lawyers at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers at the location nearest you for a free consultation:

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 347-7770

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Fort Lauderdale Law Office
200 S.E. 6th Street #203
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 287-0566

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
319 Clematis St #203
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 556-7873