Your driver’s license has been suspended or has expired—maybe you are aware of it and maybe you’re not. Then the unforeseeable happens—you are involved in a a car accident, caused entirely or mostly by the negligence or carelessness of another person. Can the defendant (the person from whom you seek compensation) raise the fact that you did not have a valid operator’s license as a defense, arguing that you were illegally on the road?
In a motor vehicle accident claim, as with any personal injury action, liability will be based on a legal theory of negligence. The key issues involved include:
The first question, then, is whether a “reasonable” person would drive with an expired or suspended license. Even if the answer is “no,” it’s highly unlikely that the other party could demonstrate that the failure to have a valid operator’s license caused the accident.
Furthermore, in New Jersey, the principle of “modified comparative negligence” applies to claims where more than one party caused the accident. That means that, provided you were not primarily responsible (more than 50%) for causing the accident, you can still recover for your losses, though they may be reduced by the percentage of your liability.
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