Can my wife be sued for an auto accident that she did not report because she had an expired license?

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Can my wife be sued for an auto accident that she did not report because she had an expired license?

My wife was rear-ended and upon exchanging information with the other party she noticed her license had expired. The other party (presumably because she was at fault) said for my wife to just leave and she would just handle it through her insurance company. The other party stated that if my wife agreed to help with the insurance deductable she would keep her from going to jail for driving with an expired license. My wife did leave, but now the other driver is claiming to have hospital bills, etc. What are her legal obligations at this point? We don’t know if the police/insurance was contacted.

Asked on January 10, 2011 under Accident Law, Texas

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Since your wife was rear-ended, the other driver is at fault in the auto accident.  Your wife is not liable for the accident and should not pay the other driver's deductible.  Your wife should contact the other driver's  insurance carrier to file her claim for property damage to her vehicle, and if injured, a personal injury claim.  She should not rely on the other driver to handle this.

Your wife's expired driver's license will not affect liability in the accident.  The other driver remains liable for causing this rear-end collision.  Since the other driver caused the accident, your wife is not liable for the other driver's bills.  Your wife will NOT go to jail for driving on an expired license.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are responsible for injuring another through careless driving or otherwise negligently--i.e. you are "at fault"--you can be sued for their injuries, costs, and property damage. Of course, there must be fault to be sued, and usually--not always, but usually--the rear driver in a rear-end collision is deemed to be at fault, since they had more  control over the collision. That said, if you are sued, you have to take it seriously. Note that if you did not report the accident on a timely basis to the insurance agency or your wife was driving without a license, you might not have recourse to your insurance; i.e. you'd be on your own. Driving without a license can also subject you to criminal liability of a minor sort potentially. You probably should contact an attorney with experience in defending auto accident cases and bring a copy of your insurance contract to see what your rights and potential liability is. Good luck.


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