Some people worry that they will someday be in an auto accident with an unlicensed or uninsured driver. Both conditions offer unique challenges for getting compensation for injuries and damage to the victim of an accident.
When a driver is both unlicensed and uninsured, a victim is often left with little recourse. For some this is counter-intuitive, after all, a person without a license is driving illegally, and therefore automatically at fault, right?
While there are criminal consequences for driving without license or while uninsured (or even under-insured) none of these conditions equal automatic fault.
Only roughly two-thirds of the population carries a driver’s license. While people in rural communities are likely to find this shocking, in cities it is more common to utilize public transit and to live in areas where driving is less commonly needed.
Studies conducted by AAA indicate that unlicensed drivers account for 18.2% of fatal crashes. While this number is troubling, statistically it is lower than the population of unlicensed drivers overall.
When in an accident with an unlicensed driver, they are negligent but that does not always extend to being at-fault.
A driver with a suspend or revoked license may still have insurance. However, that insurance provider is likely to balk at paying for damages caused by an unlicensed driver. Some go so far as to have policies suspended when the license does so.
No (or Too Little) Insurance?
Insurance coverage is meant to pay for damages and provide a quick way to access funds to compensate and repair. When no insurance is held, or too little coverage exists, this leaves an accident victim in desperate spot.
Typically, a victim is able to pursue a civil case and sue the at-fault party rather than their insurance company. However, when the uninsured driver has no resources to draw from, courts can do little to produce cash that doesn’t exist. Small weekly payments can be ordered but unless the uninsured has access to some means, these compensatory charges are unlikely to do much.
Uninsured Motorist Benefits
Knowing that one or both of the above situations are likely to occur, insurance companies created an uninsured motorist benefit to policies.
This may be an additional charge or a component of a policy. Either way, the purpose is to have a victim’s own insurance cover the costs of repairs and injury to help the motorist.
Maryland is a “tort liability” state. This means that the at-fault party is responsible for paying for damages. If a victim’s own insurance is footing the bill this is not an admittance of fault but a safeguard against a niche problem.
It is possible, and wise, to use uninsured motorist benefits while seeking a case against an uninsured driver.
When filing a claim with one’s own insurance company, it’s required to inform insurers that others involved have no insurance. Failure to report this causes problems that slow down any compensatory process.
Contact us to learn more about your options if you’ve been involved in an accident with an unlicensed or uninsured driver. We’re here to help.