No driving licence, yet still compensated for personal injury!

A common mistake is to assume that the moment someone does not have a driver’s license, the occurrence of the accident is necessarily due to his fault. However, this is an incorrect interpretation of the law. It is true that driving without a license is not permitted and that the driver who does not possess a license is acting unlawfully. However, this is not sufficient to hold this driver entirely liable. All of the circumstances of the case must be considered.

The underlying idea is that the absence of a driver’s license does not necessarily mean a lack of driving ability. Consider, for example, a 16-year-old who can drive a car flawlessly, but who does not yet have a driving license due to his age. The moment a person is capable of driving, among other things as a result of his or her driving lessons, and the accident is caused by the other party’s actions, such as making a special maneuver without giving right of way, the other party’s insurer may still be obliged to compensate the loss. It follows from case law that the insurer cannot reject liability (in its entirety) on the basis of the absence of a driver’s license alone. The circumstances of the accident must therefore be examined, whereby the driver’s license itself is only one factor that is taken into account.

In addition to the above, fairness might entail a different allocation of damages. We call this the fairness correction. This comes into play at the time when both parties have committed a wrongful act. If the aforementioned has taken place, an allocation is made of each person’s contribution to the occurrence of the accident. For example, in the previously mentioned example where the motorist refused to give way while performing a special manoeuvre, you could make a division of 70/30. In this case the driver without a driving license would receive 70% of the compensation. This is because the driver without a driving licence contributed 30% to the occurrence of the accident (his own fault). The fairness correction, also considering the seriousness of the injuries, the loss of earning capacity and the contribution of the driver without a driving license, could imply that another division should take place (for example 100/0). This would then mean that the driver without a driving license would be compensated for all of his damages. Whether the fairness correction in your case also entails a different distribution cannot be determined in general terms. For this, before giving an answer, we need to take note of all the relevant facts.

This doctrine is highly casuistic. There is no black and white line by which it can be said in which cases the absence of a driver’s license entails guilt. Have you been involved in an accident where one of the parties did not have a driver’s license or do you know someone who has been in a similar accident? Then contact us free of charge to have us settle your claim.