Leesburg Florida car accident lawyer discusses how no driver’s license impacts a Florida car accident case.
You were driving your car without a license – you stopped at a red light on US 27 and Dixie in Leesburg and you were rear-ended. You did nothing wrong – except you didn’t have a valid driver’s license. How will the fact that you did not have a license impact your personal injury claim? In this situation, the fact that you did not have a driver’s license will not negatively impact your personal injury claim – however, you will have to deal with the traffic violation for not having a license.
How about this scenario?
An 18 year old person, who doesn’t have a driver’s license, and is pretty inexperienced in driving, makes a left hand turn in front of another car and the cars crash. The passenger in the car making the left hand turn dies and her estate bring a lawsuit against the driver of the other car. The driver of the car that was traveling straight took the position that because the 18 year old was inexperienced; he was not able to judge the speed of the car that was traveling straight.
The case went to trial and the defendant wanted to question the 18 year old about not having a valid driver’s license. The trial judge allowed the jury to hear this information and the defendant won the case. In trial, anytime a person is able to show the jury that a driver was not licensed, it will certainly be held against that unlicensed driver. Anyway, the estate of the deceased passenger appealed, and the Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge.
Let’s take a look at the law. The Florida Supreme Court has said:
Despite its precedent holding that a violation of a traffic law is evidence of negligence, the general rule that evidence must be relevant to be admissible still applied. Thus, the court concluded that a person’s violating a traffic regulation is admissible evidence only if it tends to prove that that person has negligently operated an automobile. And the court noted that in some cases, the violation of a licensing statute may be relevant to show the driver’s inexperience and incompetence in handling an automobile.
So, in the above case, the Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s ruling finding that the 18 year old driver’s inexperience may have had a causal connection with the accident (inability to judge the speed of the car going straight). Most times, the fact that a driver was unlicensed will not impact a personal injury case but under certain circumstances it certainly can change the outcome.
Florida car accident law can be complex, if you have any questions about a Leesburg Florida car accident claim, call me at (352) 267-9168 and I will provide answers.