What if the At Fault Driver Doesn't Have a Driver's License?

From time to time, we will encounter a case where the driver who caused the car accident does not have a driver’s license and our clients will ask how that will affect their personal injury case. The other driver not having a driver’s license does not necessarily mean that there is no insurance on the vehicle to file a claim against for your damages. If there is insurance covering the vehicle, that insurance will most likely apply and the fact that the other driver is not licensed may not matter much if that insurance company accepts liability, there are no policy issues, and they are willing to pay. If there is a question as to which driver is responsible for causing the accident, the fact that the other driver does not have a license may establish that the driver is less experienced and not fully trained on how to operate a vehicle and therefore it is more likely that they were at fault for the accident.

This issue recently came up in the case of Lopez v. Wink Stucco Insurance, 38 Fla. L. Weekly D1976a. In this case, the Court ruled that the admissibility of a driver not having a license is a question of law that turns on the relevancy of that evidence as it pertains to the facts of a particular case. The Court stated that in order for such evidence to be admissible, there must be a causal connection between the driver not having a license and the injuries incurred and to establish this causal connection the driver’s competence and experience must be placed at issue in the case. In the Lopez case, the evidence showed that the one of the drivers was eighteen years old, had never sat for a driver’s license exam, had only driven occasionally for about 2 years, and that he often used public transportation because his parents did not like for him to drive the car. The Court decided that those facts were enough to allow into evidence the fact that the driver didn’t have a license. In short, the jury was allowed to hear the evidence of no driver’s license because the driver with no license was young and did not a lot of driving experience. The fact that he didn’t have a license was relevant because it was put into question whether he was a competent driver. This may not be a case where someone has been driving for years, but just never obtained a license because the fact that they don’t have a license may not have anything to do with how the accident happened or if they caused the accident. As with many areas of the laws, the facts of each case will dictate how the law is applied.