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Legal Guide to Managing Car Accidents with Unlicensed Drivers in Nevada

Driving a vehicle without a valid driver’s license is illegal in Nevada, yet it remains a common occurrence. Unlicensed drivers pose a safety risk on the roads and often flee the scene or lack insurance after an accident. If you’ve been involved in a collision with an unlicensed driver in Nevada, you may have questions about how to protect your rights and seek compensation. This guide provides an overview of the laws and procedures related to car accidents with unlicensed drivers in Las Vegas Nevada.

Determining If the Other Driver Was Unlicensed

After a car accident, you’ll exchange insurance and driver’s license information with the other driver. If the other motorist doesn’t provide a license, states they don’t have one, or provides an expired license, it’s likely they are unlicensed.

You can verify the licensing status by contacting the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles or hiring car accident lawyers Las Vegas to investigate. Looking up the other driver’s license plate number may also provide clues if there are prior citations or offenses related to driving without a valid license.

Unique Challenges with Uninsured Unlicensed Drivers

Unlicensed drivers often lack insurance because it is required to register and insure a vehicle. According to the Insurance Research Council, an estimated 15% of Nevada motorists are uninsured, higher than the national average.

This poses significant issues if the unlicensed driver was at fault in your accident. Without insurance, the at-fault driver may be unable to pay for your medical bills, auto repairs, lost wages, and other damages. You’ll be forced to use your own insurance or sue the driver.

Uninsured drivers are also more likely to flee the scene of an accident. Even if the police locate the hit-and-run driver later, it can delay the claims process and recovery of damages.

Determining Fault and Liability

The fact that the other motorist didn’t have a valid license doesn’t automatically make them liable for the crash. Fault must be determined based on the particular circumstances of the accident.

Some common scenarios involving unlicensed drivers:

  • If an unlicensed driver runs a red light and hits your vehicle, they are likely at fault.
  • If you back your car into an unlicensed driver, you may be liable or share partial fault.
  • If an unlicensed driver hits a stopped vehicle, they often bear primary fault.

Police will make an initial determination of fault when writing up an accident report. Your insurance company will also investigate fault and may find the unlicensed driver entirely or partially liable. Ultimately, a court may have to decide fault and liability if a lawsuit is filed.

Reporting the Accident and Driver to the Authorities

Any traffic collision involving injury, death, or major property damage should be reported to the police. Inform the responding officer that the other driver was operating a vehicle without a valid license.

In addition to including this information in the police report, you may want to file a separate report about an unlicensed driver with the Nevada DMV. The DMV can potentially suspend the driver’s vehicle registration or ability to obtain a license.

Using Your Insurance After an Accident with an Unlicensed Driver

Your auto insurance policy will have provisions for uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage. These coverages allow you to file a claim with your own insurer if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance.

The claims process functions much the same as if the other motorist was properly insured. Your insurer will investigate fault, process medical payments if you were injured, determine the value of your vehicle if it was damaged, and potentially help with a rental car and other losses incurred.

The main caveat is that your potential payout is limited by your policy coverages. Having ample uninsured motorist coverage limits is therefore vital.

Suing an Unlicensed Driver After an Accident

If the at-fault unlicensed driver was uninsured and your damages exceed your policy limits, you may need to pursue a personal injury or property damage lawsuit. This allows you to go after the driver’s personal assets and future wages to cover losses.

The process involves filing a complaint, gathering evidence like police reports and witness statements, negotiating potential settlements, and possibly going to court if a settlement isn’t reached.

Suing an unlicensed driver has some advantages compared to an insured motorist:

  • Juries may assign higher damages against a driver breaking the law.
  • The defendant’s insurance company won’t be defending the case and fighting the claim.
  • Unlicensed drivers are less likely to have significant assets, making collections difficult.

Having an attorney helps navigate the legal complexities and locate recoverable assets. Settlements can sometimes be reached to avoid the unpredictability of a trial.

Additional Steps if the Unlicensed Driver Flees

Sadly, hit-and-runs are common with unlicensed motorists. Around 20% of car accidents in Las Vegas are hit-and-runs, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.

If the at-fault driver flees the scene:

  • Call 911 immediately to report the incident location and any identifying details about the fleeing vehicle. The police may be able to locate the driver quickly.
  • If you have uninsured motorist coverage, file a claim with your own insurer. The lack of information about the driver makes this more difficult, but it is still possible.
  • Consult Nevada car accident lawyers about steps to identify the hit-and-run driver through camera footage, debris left behind, license plate searches, or witnesses. A lawyer can help pursue damage recovery once the driver is found.

Avoiding Accidents with Unlicensed Drivers

Defensive and attentive driving is always advisable, but extra caution is warranted in areas where unlicensed motorists are common, like busy urban centers. Allow longer following distances, use turn signals early, and drive the speed limit to minimize collision risks.

Assume other motorists may make unpredictable moves and be ready to brake or steer away. Having uninsured motorist coverage is also a smart safeguard. Dash cams and other recording devices can help establish fault if an accident does occur.

Staying alert on the roads minimizes risks while increasing the chances of a successful claim if involved in an incident with an unlicensed driver.

Suffering injuries and vehicle damage after a crash can be devastating, especially when the at-fault driver lacks insurance coverage. Our car accident attorneys Henderson have extensive experience representing Nevada accident victims involving uninsured and unlicensed drivers. We work aggressively to prove liability, maximize available compensation through insurance claims or lawsuits, and help you recover physically, emotionally, and financially. If you need help, contact Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys today.

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