Unfortunately, there has been an increase in unlicensed drivers across the roads in Victoria. 2018 statistics showed that unlicensed drivers were involved in 5% of fatal crashes. When an individual without a license chooses to get behind the wheel, they’re putting themselves and others at risk.
On top of the element of danger, the relationship between TAC and unlicensed drivers is a more complex one – and is something that teenagers and other prohibited drivers often don’t understand.
The TAC does have some responsibility towards drivers that are on the roads illegally, even if they are in stolen cars, but how exactly does it work? If you were involved in an accident after being disqualified or never holding a license, ensure you understand how the process works.
Who is at fault?
When determining who is at fault for an accident, you won’t be held liable just because you don’t hold a license. The same principles of negligence apply, and the fact that a party does or does not hold a license won’t automatically dictate who is to blame.
If you do hold a valid license and, for example, you rear-end a vehicle driven by someone that doesn’t, you will still be held liable.
What level of support are you entitled to?
Though you can still receive TAC support, the amount of support you’re entitled to is reduced if you were committing an offence when the accident occured. You’re classed an an “unlicensed driver” if:
- You had never held a license for the vehicle you were driving
- Your license had been suspended or revoked at the time of the accident
- Your license has been expired for 3 years or more
- You had held an overseas license for that class of vehicle, which disqualified you from driving on the roads in Victoria for over 3 years
- You held a learner’s permit but were not accompanied by a fully licensed driver at the time of the accident
The TAC is not responsible to pay loss of earnings (LOE) support for the first 18 months for unlicensed drivers. However, they will pay for:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of earnings capacity after 18 months have passed, up to 3 years after the accident
- Impairment benefits, if you have an impairment of 11% or more
- Potential compensation for serious injuries if someone else was at fault
Who pays for property damage when an unlicensed driver is involved?
When driving a vehicle without the appropriate license, it’s unlikely that an insurance company will be willing to pay for property damage, as most insurers exclude their obligation in such a case.
This means that you, as the unlicensed driver, will need to pay for any liability regarding property damage. This can be a difficult situation, especially for young drivers that don’t have the funds available to them. If you possess a comprehensive car insurance policy, damage to your vehicle should be covered. The insurance company may pay for the damage and then progress to recover the money from the unlicensed driver.
What if another party is also unlicensed?
If the other party involved in the accident admits they are – or you expect they are – unlicensed, contact Police Link on 131 444. Explain the situation and the authorities will determine if a police officer is needed to attend the scene.
The same thing applies if the driver is underage or you suspect they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you’ve already left the scene, report the matter to the police and they can investigate the matter further.
Will you receive benefits if an accident occurred and a license was not required?
In some parts of Australia, a license may not be required to drive certain classes of vehicles. For example, if the accident occurs on private property. If this occurs, the TAC will only pay loss of earnings benefits if the driver was unable to obtain a license to drive that class of vehicle. An example could be a minor driving a farm vehicle.
If the involved driver did have the capacity to obtain a license, no LOE benefits will be paid to them.
If a vehicle is uninsured, the TAC will also pay benefits to an individual injured in an accident on private land, provided the individual does not own the vehicle. This covers drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
However, the TAC does not cover drivers, passengers and pedestrians that own an uninsured vehicle, when the accident occurs on private land. Remember there is a 28-day grace period from the date your vehicle’s registration expires, so if the accident occurs within the first 28 days, the vehicle is still considered to be insured.
What happens now?
Due to the complex nature of compensation claims involving uninsured or unlicensed drivers, it’s important to seek legal help early on. Be better prepared to lodge a claim with TAC and understand exactly what you’ll be covered for, by engaging specialist TAC lawyers.
Contact us on 0416 415 117 to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.