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What Happens if You Get in an Accident Without a License in California?

You must have a valid driver’s license to operate a vehicle in California. If a person makes the choice to drive without a license or while their license is suspended, they could get into serious legal trouble if stopped by a law enforcement officer. Driving without a license can be prosecuted as both a non-criminal or misdemeanor offense.

Getting into a car accident while driving without a license will likely result in a ticket from law enforcement. However, not having a license will not affect the way a car accident case is handled. The most important thing in the event of an accident is having the required insurance minimums for the state of California.

Will I Face Additional Penalties?

State law requires that you have liability insurance when operating a motor vehicle. If a driver fails to maintain current liability insurance coverage on their vehicle, they could face additional legal penalties and be help personally liable for injuries and damages they cause in an accident.

California is considered a “fault” state. This means that one driver will be determined to be at-fault in the accident. If a person is involved in an accident, they will file a claim with their own insurance, against the other driver’s insurance, or against the other driver directly.

Even if you are in an accident while driving without a license, you can still file a claim against an at-fault driver. If you were at fault, the other driver can file a claim against your insurance carrier or against you directly.

Will I Receive a Lower Settlement If I Don’t Have a License?

If you were driving without a license and were in an accident caused by another driver, you still need to be prepared for their insurance company to try to pin some of the blame for the crash on you. They will likely use the fact that you were not licensed at the time of the crash against you. Insurance companies are for-profit, meaning they will do what they can to lower any settlement amount they eventually have to make. You may need to secure a knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer to help you through your case.

How Common Are Car Accidents in California?

Car accidents are common in California. Looking at the statistics provided by the state’s Office of Traffic Safety, we can see that there were hundreds of thousands of vehicle accidents during the latest reporting year. Out of those, there were:

  • 273,069 total injuries
  • 3,602 total fatalities

While many of these injuries were considered minor, that does not mean they came with no expenses. Even minor injuries can lead to costly medical bills. The Office of Traffic Safety says that there were 14,188 injuries that were considered “serious” in the latest reporting year, meaning they dramatically affected a person’s ability to lead a normal life.

It is important to be properly licensed to drive a vehicle before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is also important to have the right insurance coverage. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident while driving without a license, you could still be entitled to compensation. This can include:

  • Coverage of your medical bills
  • Compensation for lost income if you cannot work
  • Mental anguish damages
  • Loss of enjoyment of life damages
  • Possible punitive damages against a negligent party

If you have been involved in an accident, please contact our personal injury attorneys to discuss the specifics of your individual case.