What Happens if an Unlicensed Driver Hits You in California?

by Staff | April 5th, 2024

In California, all drivers must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle. However, not all drivers follow the law, and those who drive without a valid license are more likely to cause accidents.

According to a study conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, unlicensed drivers are almost three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than licensed drivers. Unlicensed drivers are just as likely to be at fault in a car accident with serious injuries.


Often, unlicensed drivers are also uninsured or underinsured, which means that although they may have insurance, they don’t carry sufficient coverage to pay for the injuries they inflict. Many unlicensed drivers don’t have their licenses for a good reason. They may have been careless before, resulting in a suspended or revoked license.

You should not have to pay for the pain and suffering someone else caused. There are ways to recover damages if an uninsured or underinsured driver has injured you. Skilled car accident lawyers like the team at Berg Injury Lawyers may be able to help. If the driver who hit you is uninsured or underinsured, you can pursue a lawsuit for economic and non-economic damages.

There is no cap on damages in California for car accident lawsuits. You can seek a settlement amount that covers your medical bills, lost wages, and non-quantifiable losses like pain and suffering.

The Role of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

You can prepare for the unexpected, especially when it involves drivers who lack proper insurance, by purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UMC/UIM). This type of protection offers coverage when the other driver is at fault but does not have adequate liability insurance, if any at all. Understanding how UMC/UIM works is essential for every driver in the Golden State.

In California, insurers are required to offer you UMC/UIM coverage, but it’s your choice whether to accept or to decline it. If you decide it’s not for you, you’ll need to sign a waiver acknowledging you turned down the coverage.

Here’s what UMC/UIM can cover:

  • Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI): This kicks in if you or passengers in your vehicle are injured in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t have liability insurance. Its limits are the same as your own liability coverage, ensuring that the financial burden of medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering don’t fall entirely on you.
  • Underinsured Motorist (UIM): Even if an at-fault driver has liability insurance, it might not be enough to cover all the damages incurred. UIM coverage can bridge the shortfall, ensuring that your injuries don’t lead to a personal financial crisis simply because the at-fault driver carried too little insurance.
  • Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD): If your vehicle is damaged in an accident where an uninsured driver is at fault, UMPD covers repair costs up to $3,500. This is especially important if you don’t have collision coverage, though it only pays out if the uninsured driver is identified.

While nobody likes to think about the possibility of an accident, being prepared for one is key to navigating the aftermath without additional stress. Before you decline this coverage, consider the costs of a potential accident with an unlicensed and uninsured or underinsured driver.


There are steps you can take if you’re involved in a collision with an unlicensed driver in California. Following this process after an accident can reduce the burden of medical expenses and stress you experience due to the driver’s negligence by bettering your chances of receiving compensation.

  1. Contact authorities. Immediately after the accident, remain at the scene and call the police to report the accident. A police report of the accident is crucial to recover damages for your injuries or property loss.
  2. Exchange insurance information with the other driver. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured in addition to being unlicensed, your lawyer can help you file an insurance claim or a legal claim against the negligent driver.
  3. Seek medical care. A motor vehicle accident can leave drivers and their passengers with lasting injuries, even if the injuries are not immediately apparent. In the minutes and hours after a car accident, adrenaline can often mask the signs of injury.
    Go to your doctor or nearest emergency room for a thorough examination and keep all your medical records. Documentation of your injuries immediately after the accident and your subsequent treatment history is essential to getting full compensation for your claims.
  4. Contact an attorney. Get expert help from car accident lawyers who can guide you through the legal process. When you’ve been the victim of an unlicensed driver’s negligence, the last thing you need is the hassle of dealing with complicated insurance claim processes or navigating the court system on your own.

An experienced personal injury lawyer knows exactly what to do to get you the best settlement or judgment for your claims. A consultation is free and can start you on the path to recovery.


Even if the other driver was unlicensed, you still need to prove your claim to obtain compensation for any injuries you sustained. To receive a settlement payout for your injuries, you’ll need to demonstrate that:

  • The other driver’s negligence partly caused the accident.
  • The accident caused you or a passenger serious physical harm.

Working with an attorney from Berg Injury Lawyers is a great way to get the support you need when building your case against an unlicensed driver.


If an unlicensed driver in California has injured you, you need to focus on your recovery instead of worrying about how to pay medical bills and take care of your family. Leave your fight for fair compensation to the car accident attorneys at Berg Injury Lawyers.

We have four decades of experience helping victims recover settlements to pay off medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other hardships resulting from car accidents. We can answer your questions and help you get the compensation you deserve without the stress of navigating the legal system on your own. Contact Berg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Originally published January 3, 2022.