Operating a motor vehicle without a valid license is against the law, so if you were injured in a car accident while driving with an expired license, you may be unsure how this may affect your ability to seek compensation.
California is an “at-fault” state, meaning that the person who is found to be at fault for the accident is the party held liable for the damages. If another driver was at fault, you should be able to file a claim against their insurance policy for medical expenses and other damages.
However, the insurance company may argue that you should not have been driving because your license was expired. They will likely use your unlicensed status as justification for offering you less compensation than your claim may be worth. It is important to discuss your situation with a licensed Sacramento auto accident lawyer to protect your rights.
As the victim, it is your responsibility to prove the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence or failure to take reasonable care to prevent you from getting injured. If you and your lawyer can prove negligence was involved, the other driver is likely to be found liable for your damages.
An expired license has no bearing on the actions of the at-fault driver. If the other driver caused the accident, the insurance company cannot legitimately deny your claim solely on the basis of your driving without a valid license.
If the accident is entirely your fault, you probably will not be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy.
However, if you were only partially to blame, you may be able to file a claim to cover your damages, minus your percentage of fault. Shared liability bolsters the insurance company’s claim that you are partially at fault because you did not meet the requirements for driving a vehicle. The complexity of this case warrants working with a licensed attorney who knows how to refute these claims with arguments such as intent to renew your license and lack of other traffic violations.
Police treat driving on an expired license as a misdemeanor or an infraction. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you may face up to six months in jail. If you are given an infraction, you may be fined up to $250.
If you did not have car insurance at the time of the accident, your recovery of damages may be limited — even if you were not at fault. Proposition 213 is a California state law that restricts uninsured drivers from collecting non-economic damages resulting from a car accident. This dramatically limits the potential value of the claim, regardless of insurance policy limits that may apply. The law also applies to drivers who were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.
The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order and limited Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) hours have made driver license renewal challenging in California, resulting in more residents having expired licenses.
Fortunately, California implemented new rules to help accommodate people whose licenses are set to expire during the pandemic. As of March 1, 2020, the DMV allows most drivers to renew their licenses online, a more convenient, accessible option. Also, drivers who are 70 years old or older with licenses set to expire between March and December 2020 have one year from their original expiration date to renew their license.
An expired license complicates an already stressful car accident situation, making it even more important to hire an experienced legal team to help you get through it.
At the Arnold Law Firm, we are ready to fight for maximum compensation for your damages. We have been assisting car crash victims throughout California for more than four decades and have obtained millions in compensation on their behalf.
Call us today at (916) 777-7777 to schedule your free consultation.