Skip to main content

What happens when your in an accident with an unlicensed driver with insurance?

Lake Elsinore, CA |

I was driving through an intersection which I saw a (green light) for, the oncoming driver made a left turn (my right) in front of me. We collided and come to find out she is unlicensed with insurance however, the police report says I am at fault. I am not sure what will happen. I have filed a claim with my insurance and adjuster already advised my car is totaled but now the person handling my claim says that this changes things and he needs the report asap which I already faxed him and have to refax again. What happens in these types of situations? She was issued a sitation and the police driver concluded its my fault with CVC 21453(a) but did not issue me a citation. Who is really at fault how do you prove anything if she was unlicensed and should have not been on the road to begin with?

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


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.

Get Avvo’s 3-part personal injury email series

A roundup of the best tips and legal advice.

Personal injury topics

Recommended articles about Personal injury

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer