Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver

Have you been injured in a car or road accident with an unlicensed driver? When a driver is unlicensed there are natural concerns about their lack of insurance or means to pay for your losses. This article provides some information on your rights, which you have regardless of the at-fault party lacking a licence or insurance.

Unlicensed driver accidents in Queensland

Uninsured car accident

A person operating a motor vehicle who does not have a legal driver’s licence for Queensland is an unlicensed driver. Being unlicensed does not mean that the driver does not have insurance; as personal injury CTP insurance is linked to the registration of the vehicle being driven. As a result, if you are in an accident with an unlicensed driver and they cause personal injury to you, you will be eligible to claim against their CTP insurance. 

Quick statistics on unlicensed drivers:

  • On average, unlicensed vehicle drivers are involved in 5 percent of fatal crashes and unlicensed motorcyclists are involved in 30 per cent. 
  • Up to 70 per cent of unlicensed motorists (either due to disqualification or never holding a licence) drive semi-regularly and have a greater risk of being involved in road accidents than licensed drivers.

With these statistics, it is no wonder accidents with unlicensed drivers are common! It is important for drivers to know what their rights are and what to do if they are in an accident with an unlicensed driver.

Notwithstanding the fact that driving without a license is unlawful, the same principles of negligence will apply, and an unlicensed driver will not be deemed at fault merely because they are unlicensed.
For example: if you rear-end a vehicle driven by an unlicensed driver, it will still be you (or your insurer) who is at-fault and therefore liable to pay the damage to their vehicle and any claim for injury compensation. A difficulty that arises in accidents with unlicensed drivers is that the insurance company of the vehicle they are driving is unlikely to pay their liability for property damage. This is because driving unlicensed is usually a condition to negate any insurance coverage. 

What happens if you are in an accident with an unlicensed driver?

Unlicensed driver accidents are all too common, and we want to explore some of the common outcomes of being in an accident with an unlicensed driver.  

  • Insurance companies usually won’t provide insurance cover in circumstances where the driver was either unlicensed or had a suspended licence. This means any liability will need to be paid for by the unlicensed driver themselves. 
  • Considering many unlicensed drivers may be young or otherwise lack sufficient funds to pay for damage to your vehicle, this may make recovering this money difficult.

If you have your own comprehensive car insurance policy, this should cover your vehicle damage regardless, and your insurer will usually pay you out immediately and then attempt to recover the amount from the unlicensed driver.

What about personal injury compensation with an unlicensed driver?

Calculating injury compensation

When it comes to personal injury insurance the situation is different. Comprehensive Third Party (CTP) Insurance is the only insurance that will pay out regardless of whether the at-fault driver is unlicensed or has a suspended or revoked licence. CTP covers any injury compensation which the at-fault driver would be liable to pay. 

As we mentioned above, it’s possible to seek compensation under CTP insurance which every driver in Queensland will have as part of registration. But, in some cases drivers will drive unregistered vehicles. If this is the case, there is a statutory body called the nominal defendant which operates to compensate persons injured as a result of an accident with an uninsured driver.

If you have been injured in an accident there are strict time limits which apply in Queensland; you have three years from the date of the accident to commence your claim for injury compensation. That’s why it is vital to seek legal advice as soon as possible after you have been injured in a car accident so that you can find out whether you should pursue legal action against the at-fault party.

Get expert advice now: Smith's are Queensland's only 100% risk-free injury compensation lawyers. Insist on our 'No Win. No Fee. No Catch' ® promise. Check your rights with no risk or obligations now and talk direct to our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith. Call 1800 266 801 OR  check if you can claim

What does it mean to be an uninsured driver?

An uninsured driver is someone who does not have comprehensive or third party insurance cover on their vehicle. If you are in an accident with someone who does not have insurance it may be difficult to recover costs for damage sustained to your vehicle. Queensland drivers with a registered vehicle will have CTP insurance to cover any personal injury suffered in an accident.

What to do when an uninsured driver hits you? 

Drivers licence

It is not easy to know if someone is uninsured unless they tell you after being in an accident with them. You can only hope that someone has been honest with you after an accident; despite this there are some key things you can and should do after an accident to ensure that you are protected no matter what. 

  • Take photos of the accident, including clear pictures of the other driver’s licence plate.
  • Get a picture of the other driver’s licence and ensure you get their address and details in the photo in case you need this information later.
  • If there were any witnesses to the accident it is important to get their personal information and details so that you can contact them later on down the line in case you need their verification of how the accident took place. This will be particularly important if there is some disagreement on who was at fault.
  • Note down any particulars about the accident including time, place, conditions, weather, and any other relevant details. 

You will need to make contact with your insurance provider (if you have one) as soon as possible to report the accident and let them know what has happened so that your insurer can begin the process of recovering money for the damage to your vehicle. 

How to report an uninsured driver

Report an uninsured driver

An uninsured driver does not need to be reported per se - but it may make things a little harder for you to secure repairs on your vehicle. However, if you know that the person driving the other vehicle is driving an unregistered car you will need to report this to the police as this is an offence.

If you are involved in an accident with a driver who admits or who you suspect to be unlicensed contact Policelink on 131 444 and they will determine if police attendance is required at the scene of the accident.

If you have already left the scene of the accident, you should still report the matter to a police station and they will investigate the suspected license offence. There are serious penalties for unlicensed driving including large fines and imprisonment.

Do insurance companies go after uninsured drivers?

If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver this can make recovering money for the damage to your vehicle difficult. This is because any damage sustained will need to be paid for by the driver directly; and many people do not have this kind of money ready to hand over after an accident takes place. Your insurance provider will repair your vehicle and will often commence recovery procedures to get the money back from an at-fault driver. 

How to get car repairs paid by uninsured driver

Car repair costs

If you are uninsured and have been in an accident with someone who was at fault, and also uninsured, you can follow a process to secure payment for the cost of repairs. 

  1. The at-fault party is legally responsible for the repairs to the vehicle of the person who was not at fault.
  2. You can commence by getting some quotes for the cost of repairs to your vehicle and then send these quotes to the at-fault party via email. Top tip: it is good to correspond via email as you have a record of the conversation, including dates and times, and can keep any responses in the one place.
  3. If the at-fault party does not respond to your emails it may be helpful to send them a letter of demand. You can use our template to craft a letter of demand.
  4. If the at-fault party does not respond to your letter of demand in the time you outline, you have the option to seek the cost of repairs through QCAT.

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Next steps - get advice now

It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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Last update on:
July 16, 2020
Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For expert advice call 1800 266 801 or chat via live chat to arrange free initial advice with our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.

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