We’ve had multiple readers write in to ask about filing personal injury claims while driving without a license. In every case, the person driving without a license did not cause the accident and got hurt. One says he was driving without a license when another car rear-ended him. Another says “I was involved in an auto accident for which I was not at fault. However, I did not have current registration, insurance, or a valid license. Myself as well as my two-year-old daughter both sustained mild injuries. I am now left without a mode of transportation and am the sole provider for my family. Is there any possible recourse to pursue compensation despite my minor infractions? I was only cited for no valid license, no proof of insurance at the scene.” See which state laws may apply to your case.
You Can Still Get Paid in Most States, Provided the At-Fault Driver Has Car Insurance
In most U.S. states, the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy should cover your car repair and injury-related expenses. This is true even if the injured person who didn’t cause the accident was driving without a license. If the driver that rear-ends you doesn’t have insurance, then you can file a personal injury claim for compensation. The first reader said he was driving without a license but didn’t mention anything about car insurance. In most cases, driving without a license cannot stop you from claiming a cash settlement if you’re not at fault. (That said, if you lost your license for a DUI conviction, that might make a difference.) Not sure how to find a qualified lawyer to help with your case? We can match you with someone in your area today who can give you free claim help over the phone.
What Happens If You’re Driving Without a License in A “No Pay, No Play” State?
There are 11 states with specific laws that may affect your ability to claim a cash settlement. Since it’s unclear where these accidents occurred and if the at-fault drivers had insurance, we’ll explain how that works. Driving without a license in these states won’t prevent you from winning an auto accident settlement. However, the second reader that asked this question stated he didn’t have car insurance. These states either require or offer auto insurance policies with personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for all licensed drivers:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
These insurance policies typically cover all car repair and injury-related costs, regardless of who caused the accident. That means if another driver rear-ends you in New Jersey, your insurance policy pays for your damages. If you’re driving without a license in New Jersey but have car insurance, then that same rule applies. But if another car rear-ends you in New Jersey and you’re driving without a license or insurance, you get nothing. Individual state laws do, however, provide a few exceptions that may allow you to recoup some damages.
When Can Uninsured or Unlicensed Drivers Sue for Damages in “No Pay, No Play” States?
Generally, there are no state laws that limit your ability to claim compensation just for driving without a license. Below is a summary of “no pay, no play” state laws that apply to uninsured drivers hurt in car accidents:
- Alaska – You can sue for up to $10,000 in small-claims court within two years. If the at-fault driver flees the scene, drives recklessly, intentionally hits you or is under the influence, those limits no longer apply.
- California – You can sue for up to $10,000 in small-claims court within two years.
- Indiana – You can sue for up to $6,000 in small-claims court within two years.
- Iowa – You can sue for up to $5,000 in small-claims court within two years. Alternatively, a lawyer may get you more than the maximum insurance payout of $20,000 for bodily injury + $15,000 for property damage.
- Kansas – You can sue for up to $4,000 in small-claims court within one year.
- Louisiana – Unless the at-fault driver hit you on purpose, drove under the influence or fled the scene, you’re out of luck. Uninsured drivers must pay $15,000 in medical bills and $25,000 in car repairs before filing a compensation claim.
- Michigan – If you’re uninsured, state law says you cannot sue the at-fault driver for damages.
- Missouri – If you’re uninsured, you can only sue if the at-fault driver was under the influence.
- New Jersey – You cannot sue the at-fault driver for any reason if you don’t have insurance.
- North Dakota – You can sue for up to $5,000 in small-claims court within two years.
- Oregon – Oregon’s law is much like Alaska’s, only you have six years to sue for up to $10,000 in small-claims court.
Related: 5 Things an Auto Accident Lawyer Will Do for You
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.