Approximately twenty percent of traffic accidents are caused by unlicensed
drivers. These drivers are also involved in roughly twenty percent of
all fatal motor vehicle accidents. Obviously, the unlicensed operation
of a motor vehicle is a problem.
Experienced Newburgh car accident attorneys encounter unlicensed operator collisions often. Since the unlicensed operator
should not be driving, it is quite likely that the driver is not insured
as well. Of course, the offending driver can be personally sued in a court
of law in order to obtain compensation for the victim’s injuries.
But many people are judgment proof; meaning, they do not have assets sufficient
to cover the cost of a jury award.
An avenue of compensation for the injured motorist is available by suing
the owner of the vehicle that the unlicensed driver was operating. New
York law guarantees that vehicle owners can be held accountable for the
negligent acts committed by people to whom their car is loaned. The New
York law on point is
section 388 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law.
This law states that when the owner of a vehicle entrusts that vehicle
to another person (friend, family, employee), the owner can be liable
for injuries caused by the drivers negligent operation of the vehicle.
If the driver is found negligent, then the vehicle owner can be forced
to pay for the victim’s damages.
It is important to stress that a finding of negligence must be made; the
owner is not automatically liable. So the concept “negligence per
se” will not apply. This doctrine only applies when the statute
that was violated is intended to prevent the act and injury that occurred.
The law that requires drivers to be licensed in New York is
Vehicle and Traffic Law section 509. But since licensing is only administrative in nature, and because harm
will not necessarily occur because one is unlicensed, courts will not
apply negligence per se.
But there is an exception! If the offending motorist’s license was
suspended or revoked for the same reasons that caused the
car accident (speeding, drunk driving, etc.), then negligence per se may apply. Since
the offending driver can therefore be found negligent by the court and
in violation of the licensing requirements stated in New York Vehicle
and Traffic Law Section 509, the vehicle owner can be held liable under
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law section 388.
By now it is surely clear that seeking compensation for injuries caused
by one person’s unlicensed and negligent use of another person’s
car is a complex affair. This type of case needs the attention and care of an
experienced car accident litigator.
Learn more about who to sue and important concepts to know regarding New
York car accidents in
our latest article posted here. Read about suing the owner of a motor vehicle after the driver causes
an accident in
our blog post available here.
Our personal injury attorneys at
Mainetti, Mainetti, and O’Connor, P.C. have over 100 years of combined experience working with victims of personal
injury accidents throughout New York. We understand how to effectively
represent clients who have been injured in serious car accidents, particularly
throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley region in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, and
Newburgh where we have offices. Hear
what our clients are saying about us here and learn about just some of our
successful results here. If you or a loved one has been injured in a personal injury accident,
please do not hesitate to contact us by calling 845-340-HURT (4878) or
toll free at 866-440-4452, or by using the
convenient contact form here.