Hit by an unlicensed driver

Being in a car accident is a bad enough experience. If you find out afterward that the driver who slammed into you doesn’t have a driver’s license, your heart will probably sink. That’s because anyone  driving without a license is also unlikely to have car insurance coverage.

If you’ve been injured and have medical bills from a car accident caused by an unlicensed driver, don’t walk away from a potential claim just yet. A car accident lawyer at Joye Law Firm can review your legal options. You may still be able to recover money for losses caused by an unlicensed driver. At the very least, we can help you understand the options available to you during a free initial consultation.

Call Joye Law Firm or contact us online for a free consultation. Our law firm has offices in CharlestonColumbiaClintonSummerville, and Myrtle Beach, and we assist injured people throughout South Carolina. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.

Insurance When an Unlicensed Driver Gets into an Accident

When someone injures you in a car accident, you have the right to make a claim against the driver’s auto liability insurance and demand reimbursement for your medical bills, lost wages, and damage to your vehicle. Car owners in South Carolina are required to maintain auto liability insurance coverage to operate their vehicles in the state.

That’s the distinction you need to keep in mind if you are in an accident with an unlicensed driver. The driver may declare that he or she doesn’t have insurance, but the driver may not be the car owner. The driver may not know whether the car is insured or may be misstating the facts. This may happen if the driver is:

  • Intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • A teenager who doesn’t understand auto insurance
  • Driving someone else’s car and doesn’t understand auto insurance
  • Being uncooperative
  • Confused by the chaotic accident scene.

Police who respond to the accident will ask for insurance information, check the driver’s name against the car’s registration (under the owner’s name), and inquire further about insurance if there is a discrepancy.

The point is that you shouldn’t necessarily rely on what an unlicensed driver who has just caused a crash says at the accident scene. A car accident lawyer can determine whether the car that hit you is covered by liability insurance.

If the car that hit you has no liability coverage, you may need to file a claim against your own uninsured motorist insurance coverage. South Carolina requires insurance companies to offer car owners uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) coverage with their auto liability insurance.

Uninsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder directly. It pays if you are injured and/or your property is damaged by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. The coverage limits must be equivalent to the minimum liability coverage required in South Carolina, which is:

  • $25,000 per person for bodily injury
  • $50,000 for all persons injured in one accident
  • $25,000 for all property damage in one accident.

If you don’t want uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you must decline it in writing. Many car owners have UM/UIM coverage without realizing it. You should check with your insurer. You will be glad you have this coverage if you have been hit by an unlicensed driver.

Cars involved in accidentCompensation Beyond Auto Insurance in an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver

It is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit against an unlicensed driver who has caused you injury in a car accident. For a lawsuit to be successful, you must be able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of a judge and jury that the driver’s negligence led to your injury.

However, for a lawsuit to be worthwhile, there must be assets available that can be seized if you are awarded damages. The assets must be enough to cover the costs of pursuing the lawsuit and still provide a payout for you.

In some circumstances, an unlicensed driver may have assets. Or, there also may be a third party responsible for them, such as:

  • Parents of an underage or an otherwise dependent driver whose license has been suspended or revoked
  • Grown children with guardianship over an elderly driver whose license and insurance has expired.

There are other cases in which a third party may be held responsible for an accident caused by an unlicensed driver, such as:

  • An employer who may be held liable for injuries caused by an employee who was driving as part of their job at the time of the accident. The employer may or may not know about the status of their employee’s driving license.
  • A restaurant, bar, or theater that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated adult or someone they should have known was intoxicated and who later drove the vehicle that hit you.
  • A social host who intentionally served or allowed alcohol to be served to a person under 21 years old who later drove the vehicle that hit you.

If the unlicensed driver who hit you appeared to have been drinking – regardless of whether they were charged – you should speak to a lawyer.

South Carolina requires anyone licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption to maintain liability insurance worth at least $1 million. We can investigate the activities of a drinking driver who has caused a car accident to determine whether another party shares responsibility for the accident and should therefore compensate you.

Contact a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney in South Carolina

If an unlicensed driver caused a car accident that left you injured in South Carolina, you should consult a knowledgeable S.C. personal injury lawyer about the potential to seek compensation for your injuries and other losses.

At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina car accident attorneys seek to find all of the compensation available to help the injured people we represent. Contact us online or by phone at 888-324-3100 to get started with a free consultation about the circumstances of your car accident injuries.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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