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As a St Louis car accident lawyer, I have had a number of my clients hurt as a result of the negligence of another driver but they are scared to take legal action because they did not have a driver’s license at the time. If you do not have a license, that does not stop you from making a claim against a negligent driver.

The fact that someone may be driving without a license does not prevent them from maintaining a personal injury claim against the negligent driver. The fact that the injured driver does not have a license is irrelevant as it did not cause the crash. Let’s take a quick example. Driver A does not have a license and is driving through an intersection pursuant to a green light. Driver B does have a license and runs a red light crashing into Driver A. Driver B cannot escape responsibility for their negligence and injuries caused simply by pointing out that driver A did not have a license. Driver A not having a valid license had nothing to do with the cause of the crash and is therefore irrelevant.

The Missouri Supreme Court has held that “The mere failure to have a driver’s license does not establish a causal connection between the operation of the vehicle and an injury.”  Siess v Payton, 417 S.W.2d 6 (1967).

In order to have an illegal act to be relevant in a Missouri car accident lawsuit, the illegal actions must be ones that are designed to prevent the type of harm caused. For example, the illegal act of running a red light is designed to prevent car accidents and injuries. Therefore, if a driver is guilty of running a red light that illegal act can be used in the personal injury trial as it is relevant to how the crash happened and the injury or death occurred. Additionally, if driver A illegally had a brake or tail light out that would be irrelevant in the car accident case because a non-functioning tail light has nothing to do with running a red light and causing an intersection car accident.

For our clients who were hurt in a car crash while their license is suspended or revoked, we can still help them recover compensation for their injuries. Additionally, in many cases we also help the same clients get their license back to avoid problems in the future.

The problem for drivers without licenses however, is that often they do not have auto insurance. Not having auto insurance when being involved in a car accident does limit the ability to recover under Missouri’s “no pay no play” law. Basically stating that a driver hurt who does not have auto insurance cannot recover pain-and-suffering, only medical bills and lost wages. For more on the issues dealing with no insurance at the time of the crash see our Missouri car accident insurance article.

Our Missouri and Illinois car accident lawyers are available for a free consultation to discuss any potential case. Contact us through our website or call us at 314-863-0500 to set up a free no obligation telephone or in person consultation.

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