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June 10th, 2022

I Didn’t Have My License When I Had an Accident. Does That Impact My Rights?

An insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit is a civil law matter. If you drove without a driver’s license, that’s a criminal law issue. Depending on the circumstances, if you didn’t have a license shouldn’t impact your civil law claim seeking compensation for your injuries.

If you earned your driver’s license but didn’t have the laminated plastic card proving it is one thing. If you never had a one or are driving while it’s expired, suspended, or revoked is another.

Whether you’re at fault for the crash or not, if during the police investigation it’s discovered you didn’t have a license, or it’s suspended, revoked, or it’s expired, you’ll probably be fine. You may face increased fines and jail time if this is a repeat offense.

Not Having Your ID Card Shouldn’t Impact Your Insurance Claim or Lawsuit

Insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits are based on the legal negligence theory. You, the injured party, would be the plaintiff. The responsible party would be the defendant. You have the burden of showing:

  • Because of the relationship between you and the defendant (you’re both sharing a parking lot or public road), they owed you a duty of care (to drive reasonably in a reasonably safe vehicle)
  • The defendant breached or violated that obligation or legal responsibility by making a serious mistake
  • That breach was the factual and legal (or proximate) cause of your injuries
  • You suffered damages (a measurement of harm in dollars)
  • Texas law requires the defendant to compensate you for your damages

If you didn’t have your driver’s license card at the time of the accident or your license was revoked or suspended has no relevance to any of these elements, so the defendant shouldn’t use that against you. The focus should be on your actions and those of the driver.

Depending on the Circumstances, Never Having a License or Driving While It’s Revoked or Suspended May Be an Issue

If you never had a license or it’s revoked or suspended, it may play a role depending on the facts of the accident. Texas is a modified comparative negligence law state.

  • You can be responsible for up to 49% of the blame for the accident and recover compensation for your injuries
  • To win your case, you must show the defendant is more at fault than you are (at least 51%). If you can’t prove that, your lawsuit will be dismissed
  • If you establish that the defendant is more to blame, your share of the responsibility will be taken off your recovery. If a jury decides your actions are 25% of the crash’s cause, your recovery will be reduced by 25%

If you and the other driver both made mistakes and it’s not clear who’s mostly to blame, the defendant’s insurance company may try to portray you as an ignorant or dangerous driver. They will try to show you’re the one who’s mostly to blame, so the case should be dismissed or increase your share of the blame and reduce your recovery.

If you never passed a test to get a license, they may claim you literally don’t know how to drive safely.

If your license is suspended or revoked due to past accidents or legal violations (such as pleading guilty to or a conviction for driving while intoxicated), they may claim you have a pattern of dangerous driving. The accident is the most recent example.

If You Lack a Valid License, You Don’t Have Vehicle Insurance

If you don’t have a license, you shouldn’t be able to obtain vehicle insurance, which is mandated by state law. This could also result in a fine, but it might also impact your financial recovery for an injury because you won’t have uninsured or underinsured coverage. That allows you to file a claim with your insurer if the other driver is unknown, doesn’t have insurance, or lacks enough coverage to compensate you fully.

If you’re involved in a hit-and-run accident, the other driver is unknown. You won’t get compensation for your injuries unless other parties may be responsible and have insurance. If the driver at fault is known but has insufficient coverage, you may only get the amount of the policy’s coverage limit. If you’re seriously injured, but the other driver only has the state minimum coverage, that probably won’t be sufficient to cover all your losses.

Get Advice and Help From Attorneys You Can Trust

Shechter, Shaffer, & Harris, LLP has more than 45 years of experience representing accident victims. You’re mistaken if you believe you must be a perfect driver to have a valid car accident case.

Whether you made mistakes or have a license or not, contact us to schedule a free consultation so we can talk about your case, how it happened, and how we can help you.

If you’re in Houston, Texas, or the surrounding area, contact Schechter, Shaffer & Harris LLP for the legal guidance you need with no up-front costs if the negligence of others injures you.

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