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Filing a Lawsuit Against an Unlicensed Driver

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Dec 29, 2020 in Auto Accident

young male driver in car upsetDriving without a license is illegal in Oregon, as in other states, and yet according to AAA, about 20 percent of collisions are caused by unlicensed individuals. If you are involved in a crash with an unlicensed driver, do you know your legal rights? Can you recover compensation for your damages, or will you have to pay out-of-pocket for car repairs, medical costs and other losses?

Below, Rizk Law discusses accidents caused by unlicensed drivers and the potential legal options injured victims may have in these situations. Learn how we may be able to help by taking advantage of the free, no-obligation consultation we offer.

Unlicensed Drivers and Liability for a Crash

Even though driving without a valid license is illegal in Oregon, it is important to note that this violation alone is not negligence per se, and it does not make an individual inherently liable for a car crash. Under ORS 807.010, an unlicensed driver may receive a citation, hefty fines and other penalties for breaking the law. However, there is no automatic assumption that he or she either caused the crash or is liable for any damages. Additionally, if that unlicensed driver also suffers injuries or other damages in the collision, he or she may have the legal right to pursue compensation against the at-fault party.

Common Reasons People Drive Without a License

Commonly, those who risk breaking the law to drive without a license may include:

  • Teens who have not completed driver training
  • Aging or elderly drivers forced to give up their license due to age-related impairments
  • People who suffer from seizures and may be unable to get a license
  • Drivers with multiple DUII convictions
  • Immigrants who have not yet obtained a license in this country
  • Drivers who accumulated too many points on their license and had it suspended or revoked

Can I Pursue Compensation Against an Unlicensed Driver?

That depends. Oregon is a fault-based state, so the party who causes an accident is also responsible for the damages. However, you must be able to prove, as for any car accident claim, that the other driver was negligent in some way. This means you – or your attorney – must not only establish that he or she caused the collision and your injuries, but also that there were resulting measurable damages, such as medical costs or lost wages.

How Do I File a Claim for Damages?

Even if it is clear the unlicensed driver is at-fault for the crash, the next question is how – and under what insurance policy – can you file a claim for the damages? In some cases, the driver may have insurance, even if their license has been revoked. However, insurance companies may often cancel or lapse a policy for this reason.

Since insurance follows the car, not the driver, there may be other possibilities for filing a claim:

  • The car was borrowed with permission: In this scenario damages may be covered under the policy of the registered/insured owner. However, because the driver did not have a valid license, the claim could still get denied.
  • The car was borrowed without permission: The unlicensed driver may have “borrowed” a parent or friend’s vehicle without permission – or worse still, the car was stolen. Even if the car is covered by insurance, this situation will likely result in a denied claim.
  • The driver has insurance on another car: If the insurance policy is valid, then you may be able to pursue a claim against that policy. However, in all likelihood – especially if the driver’s license is revoked or suspended – the claim will be denied.
  • Driver has no license and also no insurance: Since insurance companies require drivers to carry a valid license, it is highly likely that, if the driver was operating his or her own vehicle without a license, there is no insurance – or if there was, it was cancelled or lapsed. You would likely have to pursue a claim through the uninsured motorist coverage of your own insurance policy in this situation.

Our Firm is Prepared to Provide Legal Help

Car accident claims are complex and insurance companies are quick to find ways to either pay out as little as possible or deny a claim altogether. However, our firm is well-versed in how insurance companies operate, including the many ways they may try to assign blame for the crash on you or say that your injuries are less serious than you claimed.

At Rizk Law, our Portland-based car accident lawyers have years of experience and a proven track record, recovering millions in compensation. If we determine you may have a valid claim, we will research all possible recovery sources and fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Initial consultations are free and carry no obligation to pursue a claim. If we represent you, there is nothing to pay us up front or while we work on your case. We only get paid if you do.

Call now for a FREE case evaluation!