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Unlicensed Driver in Accident Not at Fault

It’s bad enough to be in a car crash. But what if the other person doesn’t have a license? What if you were driving without a license?

Unlicensed drivers aren’t automatically at fault. Let’s look at how fault is assigned in Indiana car accidents and what happens in collisions with unlicensed drivers.

When is an Unlicensed Driver in an Accident Not at Fault?

Determining fault can be challenging, but it’s a vital part of the post-accident process. A driver who is 51% or more at fault can’t claim accident compensation in Indiana. This is known as the 51% Fault Rule and is also called comparative negligence.

Responsibility for a car accident is based on the proximate cause and who was negligent. Here’s what these terms mean.

Proximate Cause

A car accident has a cause-in-fact, which is the obvious cause, and the less-obvious proximate cause. The proximate cause is the underlying reason why the crash happened, which hints at who is responsible.

For example, the cause-in-fact of a collision could be that one car hit another. But the proximate cause was that a third driver was distracted and swerved into the lane, setting off the crash between the other two cars. The proximate cause shows that the true responsibility falls on the distracted driver who caused the multi-car collision.

Being unlicensed isn’t usually considered the cause-in-fact of a vehicle accident. Although the driver may have been unlicensed, their actual driving behavior is what’s most important. Were they driving negligently?


Negligence involves doing something you shouldn’t be doing, or not doing something you should be doing, while driving. Not having a valid driver’s license can be considered a form of negligence.

While the lack of a driver’s license doesn’t assign blame for a car accident, it could factor into determining why the accident happened. An unlicensed driver might not have the skill or experience to be driving safely. 

Not acquiring a driver’s license shows a certain level of disregard for the law. After an accident, an injured person, a lawyer, or an insurance company could point to the driver’s lack of a license as evidence of negligence.

It’s a good reason to acquire a valid license, keep your driver’s license up to date, and never let it expire. An accident can happen at any time.

Someone Hit Me and I Have No License. Now What?

driving without a license

Driving without a license is against the law and an unlicensed driver may face legal consequences. It is a Class C misdemeanor in Indiana to drive without having received a valid driver’s license, which can come with a $500 fine and 60 days in jail.

A criminal case is separate from a civil case. What happens when a driver without a license is involved in an accident? Can they be sued?

Yes. Whether or not an unlicensed driver is charged criminally, they can be sued civilly for damages they caused in the accident. An injured person could pursue them for medical bills, vehicle damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs depending on the circumstances. 

What About an Unauthorized Driver Car Accident?

Negligent entrustment is the term for allowing someone to drive your car when you know or should have known that they were an incompetent driver. This issue arises when a driver is unlicensed, borrows a car, and causes a car accident.

Establishing negligence entrustment involves proving the car’s owner knew about the driver’s incompetence when they loaned them the vehicle. If the injured person can prove that the owner knew the driver was unlicensed, they may be able to place liability on the owner.

Unlicensed Driver in Accident Not at Fault? Ask Crossen Law Firm

As you can see, an unlicensed driver adds a new dimension to a car accident case. You don’t have to handle this complex aspect of the law on your own. We can help.

Contact the Indiana car accident lawyers at Crossen Law Firm to discuss the details of your accident and your legal options. We’re an experienced legal team that makes it a priority to fight for our injured clients and seek full and fair compensation.

Call 317-401-8626 for a free consultation or contact us online.