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Question about liability for unlicensed driver in CA

Irvine, CA |

My employee (who is licensed) had possession of my company's vehicle. The employee allowed a fellow employee who is unlicensed to drive the vehicle and in the process that unlicensed employee was hit by a drunk driver. There were no injuries, but my car was totaled. The drunk driver's carrier is questioning liability (really!?) My question is, will the fact that my vehicle was operated by an unlicensed driver negate the drunk driver's liability? The police report is not in yet, but supposedly it will confirm that the drunk driver did in fact run a red light as the driver was arrested on the spot for DUI. Our "driver" was also cited for not having a valid license.

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Attorney answers 3


The employee's lack of a license will not affect the other driver's liability for the crash. Nonetheless, be sure to report the accident to your insurance company promptly.

This response applies only to California law, is not intended to be legal advice to any individual and does not create an attorney-client relationship.



If the other party is at fault, then why do I need to report it at all to my carrier?

Jeannette Charlotte Christine Darrow

Jeannette Charlotte Christine Darrow


Your carrier can assist with getting your vehicle repaired or otherwise getting you paid and take care of all communications with the other insurer. Then you won't have to deal with the other insurance company yourself, especially if it is questioning liability. It is good to have someone on your side, and if no liability is found on the part of your employee, there should be no effect on your insurance.


The fact that your driver was unlicensed does not affect the drunk driver's liability to you for the damage to the car. Also, if your employees were injured and are being compensated under a workers' compensation claim, the workers' compensation carrier can go after the drunk driver to recoup the amounts paid out on the claim. Likewise, your employees have claims for recovery of bodily injury damages.

Good luck.


Driving without a license does not affect liability. In other words, it will not "negate" the drunk driver's liability. As long as your employee is not at fault for the accident, it won't affect any claims for workers compensation, property damage or personal injury. Hope this helps and best of luck.

This information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.

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