On June 15th, CSPD responded to an auto versus pedestrian accident which took place at the 2500 Block of E. Las Vegas Street where a westbound vehicle struck and injured a pedestrian walking in the roadway. We thought this was an opportune time to address some of the more common misconceptions we’ve heard over the years about the implications Driving Under Restraint (without a valid license) has on Personal Injury claims and litigation in Colorado.
Misconception #1: People without valid drivers’ licenses are automatically at fault.
“He never should have been on the road to begin with!” While this statement may be true and we frequently hear it when folks contact us after being involved in a crash with an unlicensed driver, for purposes of a liability investigation conducted by Police, by Insurance Adjusters, and by Attorneys, that alone is not enough to determine fault in an accident. When determining fault police, adjusters, and attorneys are looking for a driver’s action or inaction behind the wheel which contributed to a crash. For example, was the driver following too closely, did the driver fail to yield the right of way before turning, was the driver speeding or driving while distracted? These types of actions are those upon which fault is more likely to be based.
Misconception #2: A jury will hear that a driver did/ did not have a drivers’ license.
Not so fast. No facts or evidence are admissible in a Colorado trial if they violate one of the Colorado Rules of Evidence. First and foremost, citations are not admissible for purposes of proving guilt. If offered for other permissible reasons, a judge may still decline to allow a jury to hear the fact that a citation was issued if she deems that the effect would be more prejudicial than probative. (Meaning, the judge will not allow it if it could confuse the jury rather than help them use appropriate facts to reach a conclusion on who was at fault in a crash).
Misconception #3: The insurance company will pay more for an unlicensed driver’s negligence.
That depends: whose insurance? In some circumstances, the unlicensed driver’s insurance many deny coverage entirely. Then, an injured party may only recover insurance money from her own carrier, assuming she did not reject Uninsured Motorist coverage. In either company’s assessment of the claim value, they may or may not agree to pay for a loss involving an unlicensed driver and it is more likely that the decision will hinge on the facts underlying the lack of licensure: was the unlicensed driver without a license because he was a repeat DUI offender or was the unlicensed driver without a license because he failed to pay too many parking tickets?
Misconception #4: An unlicensed driver cannot pursue a Personal Injury claim after a crash.
Many unlicensed drivers who are hurt in a crash caused by another driver assume they cannot assert a personal injury claim. While there are certain pay-for-play rules that may prevent an unlicensed driver from recovering in a personal injury claim in other states, that is not the case in Colorado.
Don’t forego protecting your rights by assuming you cannot recover in a Personal Injury claim if you were involved in a crash caused by an unlicensed driver or if you yourself were an unlicensed driver hurt by the negligent driving of someone else. Contact the Colorado Springs Injury Attorneys at Rosenbaum & Wootton, P.C. at 719.634.0102 or click on this link to schedule your FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.