No License, No Lawsuit

In a recent unreported decision, the New Jersey Appellate Division confirmed that an unlicensed, uninsured accident victim was barred for suing for his pain and suffering and medical expenses arising from his motor vehicle accident.  The plaintiff was operating an uninsured, unregistered vehicle owned by his ex-girlfriend who was incarcerated in Texas.  He had moved to New Jersey eight months before the accident.  He had no valid drivers license or medical insurance coverage.

The Appellate Division upheld the trial court’s dismissal of the lawsuit, finding that New Jersey law required that the plaintiff to have a New Jersey drivers license, and to register and insure the car in New Jersey.  It noted specifically that the plaintiff had 60 days from moving to New Jersey to obtain a New Jersey license and registration and that his failure to do so, as well as his failure to have medical coverage for this accident, barred him from suing the other driver.

Even though the plaintiff was not the legal owner of the vehicle, the court found that State law requirements for vehicle registration and insurance applied to him as beneficial owner of the car, since he drove the vehicle daily in the months leading up to the accident.  It noted that there was no good faith exemption from the bar on recovery, meaning that the plaintiff’s intentions were not relevant.

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