When you drive safely every day to avoid unnecessary risk, and an unlicensed driver hits you, frustration can mount. Once the dust settles on the accident, you may be left with a large amount of property damage and bodily harm.
While your situation feels unfair, know that you’re not alone. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 19% of motor vehicle fatalities involved drivers with invalid licenses. We see examples of unlicensed driving far too often. You shouldn’t be inconvenienced, put through pain and suffering or wrongful death due to someone else’s unlicensed driving.
If you’ve been hit by an unlicensed driver, or know someone who has, keep reading to see what you can do following an accident.
Steps to Take Immediately After an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver
If you are in an accident with an unlicensed driver, follow the same protocol you would use with a licensed driver:
- Remain calm and make sure no one has any life-threatening injuries
- Contact the police
- Get contact and insurance information from the other driver
- If possible, take pictures of the accident
- If needed, seek medical attention
After you’ve taken care of the first steps immediately after the accident, you can then assess your options for compensation.
What to Do Following the Accident
Start your damage recovery process by notifying your insurance company about the accident. It’s likely that the unlicensed driver isn’t insured as most policies exclude unlicensed drivers or individuals who drive with a suspended license.
In this case, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company. Depending on the state, you are most likely required to have some form of minimum uninsured motorist coverage in your insurance policy. Missouri is one of 22 states that require uninsured motorist coverage.
The process for recovering damages for your medical bills or lost wages can be confusing, but you don’t have to face this system alone. Contacting an auto accident attorney is an excellent first step towards sorting your options for compensation.
What Happens When an Unlicensed Driver Gets in an Accident?
When it comes to the unlicensed individual, every case is different. However, there are a few common threads between unlicensed drivers and what penalties they will face after the accident. This information may help you understand how you will need to proceed in your situation.
If the at-fault driver was driving someone else’s car who knowingly let them borrow the car, they are responsible for your damages.
Why Do People Drive Without a License?
Unfortunately, people choose to drive without a valid license daily. Many people don’t believe they have to follow the law when it comes to driving privileges. Some of the biggest reasons people drive without a valid license include:
- People who have a suspended or revoked license. License suspensions come from driving violations, like driving under the influence or collecting too many speeding tickets. However, some suspensions can be derived from other legal issues outside of traffic law, depending on the state.
- Underage driving. Some unlicensed drivers never received a driver’s license before the accident due to their age or choosing not to take their test. While there are some circumstances where an underaged driver is allowed to drive, usually with a hardship license, it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 16 to operate a vehicle alone.
What Are the Penalties of Unlicensed Driving in Missouri?
The penalties for driving without a valid license in Missouri can range from a class D misdemeanor with up to a $500 fine to a class E felony with up to four years in jail.
Drivers who operate a vehicle without a license also have points added to their record. The more points a driver has, the more likely they are to have their license revoked after other traffic violations.
Should I Sue an Unlicensed Driver?
Pursuing legal action may be necessary to recover damages from your accident. However, it’s best to talk with an accident attorney before you start your course of action. An experienced attorney who’s dealt with uninsured motorist cases can help you assess all of your options. From there, you can make a sound decision on how you will recover damages for your vehicle and any personal injuries sustained.
Contact Tolbert Beadle today to see what your options are after an unlicensed driver has hit you.