While one would logically think that licensing laws would protect you in a situation like this (the intent of this type of statute being protection of the public from unlicensed and inexperienced drivers) logic doesn’t always dictate! In fact, in most states, the violation of a criminal safety statute does not usually, in and of itself, create civil liability. In most states, California included, you must prove negligence. In this case, the other driver’s lack of a valid CDL didn’t really cause the accident. It was caused by one driver or the others failure to obey the applicable traffic law.
V C Section 21453 provides: Circular Red or Red Arrow
Circular Red or Red Arrow
21453. (a) A driver facing a steady circular red signal alone shall stop at a marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication to proceed is shown, except as provided in subdivision (b).
(b) Except when a sign is in place prohibiting a turn, a driver, after stopping as required by subdivision (a), facing a steady circular red signal, may turn right, or turn left from a one-way street onto a one-way street. A driver making that turn shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to any vehicle that has approached or is approaching so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard to the driver, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to that vehicle until the driver can proceed with reasonable safety.
(c) A driver facing a steady red arrow signal shall not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow and, unless entering the intersection to make a movement permitted by another signal, shall stop at a clearly marked limit line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or if none, then before entering the intersection, and shall remain stopped until an indication permitting movement is shown.
(d) Unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian control signal as provided in Section 21456, a pedestrian facing a steady circular red or red arrow signal shall not enter the roadway.
In your case, the officer may have confirmed fault with independent witnesses or base on the physical evidence at the scene. The report should be examined by an experienced injury attorney. Also, it could be argued that the other driver’s violation of a criminal safety statute provides for, or creates a presumption of negligence which should require the other driver to prove that the violation was not the cause of the accident.
If you primary issue is getting your car fixed or paid for, hopefully you have full coverage and your carrier will cover it regardless of fault. You can always then pursue the other driver for the reimbursement of your deductible. If you have any difficulty with either carrier I would suggest you retain an attorney experienced with insurance coverage and/or personal injury law.
Unfortunately, the other party being an unlicensed driver will not absolve you from liability for this accident.
Your insurance carrier will handle the claim, and the other party will have to appear in Traffic Court to resolve the driving without a license issue.
As an aside , police reports are inadmissible evidence at Trial. You may want to go back to the scene , if it is a commercial area, and see if there are any store owners or employees who saw the collision. Good luck
California case law holds that lack of a driver's license is irrelevant to a determination of negligence. See Schatovich v. New Sonoma Creamery (1961) 187 Cal. App.2d 342.
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