I often get asked how someone not having a license affects a car wreck. First off, just because you didn’t have a license doesn’t mean you don’t have a valid claim or lose your case.
Ultimately, though, it depends on a few things:
- who was it that didn’t have the license;
- what were the circumstances of the wreck (i.e. how did the wreck happen);
- why didn’t you or the other person have a license?
These are a few questions that will help start this discussion. So, keep these and mind as we move forward. Also, assume for purposes of this discussion that a lawsuit will be filed, and thus, we will ultimately have to present this case to a jury will decide how much money to award and a judge who will have to rule on whether or not the jury gets to hear whether someone had a license or not. (Please note that only about 10% of cases go to trial, but as a personal injury lawyer, we always evaluate scenarios and cases as if they were going to trial. It allows us to come up with a possible percentage of success and value the case).
Now, let’s apply the questions and assumptions to a few different situations.
Situation 1: Unlicensed Driver Rear Ended You
Situation #1 – You’re a licensed driver and you’re rear-ended by an unlicensed driver. Regardless of why the unlicensed driver didn’t have a license, the judge will probably let the jury hear that the person who rear-ended you didn’t have a license.
Because it’s highly relevant. How much this will affect the value of this case depends on why the person was unlicensed. Say the driver had his license stripped away for multiple DWI’s, well the value of your case may have just gone up if the jury hears that.
However, say it’s a 16-year-old boy who lives in a household run by a single mother raising 5 kids, 2 of which aren’t hers and the boy was just driving up to the store to pick up diapers. And, on top of all this, he had just taken driver’s education but couldn’t afford to get his license or didn’t have time because he was so busy helping raise his brothers and sisters.
The judge will still probably let the jury hear that he didn’t have a license. But, chances are the jury will be sympathetic to him and thus are less likely to award high damages to deter such conduct in their community. Accordingly, the value of that case is not as much as the one with the drunk driver.
Of course, these are two extreme examples, but hopefully you get the idea. Ultimately, the value of the wreck is difficult to determine but an experienced car wreck lawyer can help you determine what its worth.
Situation 2: You’re an Unlicensed Driver and You May have Done Something Wrong
Situation #2 – You’re an unlicensed driver and you get in a wreck with someone (disregard whether he/she had a license) and you are both saying the other person was at fault for the wreck.
The judge may or may not let the jury hear that you didn’t have a license. If the defendant alleges that you were at fault for the wreck or contributed to the cause of the wreck, and there is evidence to support this (i.e. you weren’t just rear-ended at an intersection) the judge may be inclined to let the jury hear that you didn’t have a license.
But, again, driving without a license does not mean you lose your case. The jury may be more inclined to put fault on you which could reduce your recovery pursuant to the law of proportionate responsibility. And, the jury may be less inclined to award “high” damages since you technically shouldn’t have been on the road. But, again, it doesn’t kill your case.
If I Was in a Car Accident with No License, Can A Lawyer Help Me?
If you’ve been hit by an unlicensed driver or you’re an unlicensed driver who was involved in a wreck, call Chris Stoy, the Fort Worth Car Wreck Lawyer at Hutchison & Stoy, PLLC today at (817) 820-0100 or fill out a free case evaluation online.