Driving in Georgia without a license can result in up to twelve months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If caught driving with a suspended license, the maximum penalties are the same. But driving with a suspended license carries a minimum punishment of two days in jail and a $500 fine. Additional infractions carry increasingly severe punishments and fines. If a motorist does not have a valid license, few defenses will be available to him or her.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to keep some people from breaking the law and driving anyway. According to a 2011 AAA Foundation study, “18.2% of fatal crashes involved a driver who did not have a license.” This resulted in the deaths of over 21,000 people. It is likely that these numbers are even higher today.
What should you know if you’re the victim of a car accident involving an unlicensed driver?
Check their Insurance
First, you should be aware that an unlicensed driver will probably not have automobile insurance. This means that an insurer will not pay for the damage to your vehicle, medical bills, and other expenses. The lack of insurance will make it more challenging to recover compensation for your injuries and costs. But this challenge is not insurmountable. A skilled attorney may try to enforce a judgment against the driver’s personal assets if he or she has any. You should share all relevant information about the accident with your attorney so they can come up with a strategy.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, a third party could be held liable. Common third parties include the vehicle’s owner. For example, a parent may have negligently allowed a child to operate the automobile involved in the crash. The same goes for a friend or other family member who allowed the unlicensed driver to use the car. If a company owns the vehicle, it could be held responsible too.
Another potential strategy is to maximize compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage. An uninsured motorist or UM coverage is there to protect you in the event of an accident. Your insurer may try to limit coverage or even deny it, depending on the facts in your case. For this reason, you should be familiar with your UM coverage and ask your attorney about recovering through it.
The fact that the driver was not licensed does not automatically mean he or she will be found at fault. The legal consequences of not being licensed do not translate into default liability. Your attorney will, therefore, ask questions about the accident to determine the facts that may come up in court. For this reason, again, it is important that you share with your lawyer all information about what happened.
Unlicensed drivers are likely to flee the scene after being in an accident. They may also be impaired because of drugs or alcohol and flee for that reason as well. If this occurs, it is vital that you report all details about the driver and automobile to law enforcement. This includes the make and model of the vehicle, where the accident took place, and the appearance of the driver. Anything else you can relay such as the approximate vehicle speeds and driving conditions will also help. This and other information will make its way into the police report and can assist you. There is no way to ensure that you will find the responsible driver. But having a record of the incident will improve your chances of recovery.
An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A car accident is stressful enough without the added element of an unlicensed driver. While this makes it more difficult to recover for your injuries and property damage, it should not deter you. Documenting as many facts as possible about the accident is the best way to help your case. If you or a family member have been hurt by an unlicensed driver, contact a trustworthy Georgia car accident attorney at Schneider Hammers today.