Teenage drivers are the riskiest drivers on the road, with some estimates indicating that they are several times more likely than older drivers to get into an accident. At the same time, many teenagers admit to dangerous driving behaviors, such as texting while driving. If you or a loved one were injured by a teenage driver in a car accident, it’s important to know what to do next.
The personal injury law firm of Cooper Schall & Levy advocates for the rights of automobile accident victims. We thoroughly investigate accidents, explain our client’s legal rights, and then go to work to demand the compensation they deserve.
Risk Factors With Teenage Drivers
There are certain driving habits which, unfortunately, are highly prevalent among teenage drivers. These behaviors increase the likelihood that an accident will occur, and they could be to blame in your particular case. Understanding these risk factors could help you and your attorney build your case. They include:
- Inexperience. Teenagers simply have not yet developed the same driving skills as older drivers. On top of that, many overestimate their abilities on the road and thereby take greater risks.
- Reckless driving. Teenagers are more prone to engage in reckless driving behaviors. These include speeding, tailgating, running red lights, and unsafe lane changes.
- Immaturity. It’s not uncommon for teenagers to show off for their friends and passengers after becoming licensed to drive. This can lead to unwise decisions and serious accidents.
- Distracted driving. A substantial percentage of teenage drivers admit to regularly being distracted on the road. Texting while driving, talking on the phone, talking to their friends in the car, and numerous other distractions are some examples.
- Alcohol use. The teenage years are often associated with underage alcohol consumption, and that leads to driving under the influence. A significant percentage of teenage automobile accidents involve alcohol.
Legal Restrictions On Teenage Drivers
In an attempt to curb unsafe teenage driving, the state of Pennsylvania has imposed significant limitations on teenage drivers. When teens choose to ignore these limits, accidents become more likely.
Teenagers under the age of 18 must undergo at least 65 hours of supervised driving time. That includes 10 hours of driving at night and 5 hours of driving in inclement weather conditions. Once the junior driver’s license is issued, there are additional restrictions. For example, for the first six months, a teen driver can have no more than one passenger in the vehicle who is under the age of 18 and not an immediate family member.
If a teenager gets into an accident and has failed to observe these restrictions, this fact could help the victim demand recovery from the teenage driver or his or her insurance company. That raises another question: what role does the parent play in the teenager’s liability?
Holding The Parent Or Guardian Liable for a Teenage Driver Accident
Automobile accident victims often want to know whether the parents or legal guardians of teenagers may be held responsible. The answer depends largely on the issue of negligent entrustment.
Negligent entrustment occurs when someone allows another person to use a dangerous object and then a third party gets hurt. With respect to automobile accidents, if the parent is aware that the child is inexperienced, has gotten into several crashes, or has a habit of engaging in any of the above risk factors, that parent may be liable for the teenager’s accident.
In short, a parent is obligated to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. That does not mean a parent is automatically liable for the sole reason that teenagers are statistically more likely to get into accidents. This analysis must be made on a case-by-case basis, and will take into consideration these and other factors:
- The teenage driver’s conduct at the time of the accident
- The teenager’s driving history, including a history of other accidents
- Whether the parent knew or had reason to know about the conduct and driving history
- Whether the parent took any reasonable steps to ensure the teenage driver safely operated the vehicle
What Should You Do After a Teenage Driving Accident?
Your first objective after an accident involving a teenage driver is to get any necessary medical attention for you and your passengers. You also need to make a police report and get a copy of the report.
If you are able to do so, and you’re not interfering with any police or medic activity, take pictures or video of the accident scene and vehicles. You can also start gathering basic information such as:
- The make, model, and VIN of the at-fault automobile
- The identity of the at-fault driver, including his or her name, address, and contact information
- The identities of any witnesses to the accident
- Information such as location of the crash, time of day, and weather conditions
At your earliest opportunity, speak with an experienced Philadelphia teenage driver accident attorney. It is likely that the driver’s insurance company, or even their parents, will contact you to attempt to settle the case. However, bear in mind that the full extent of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle will likely not be known for some time. You could have underlying medical issues that require the attention of a physician. If you settle your case and it turns out your expenses are higher than you thought at the time, you won’t get another chance to ask for more money. That’s why it’s so important to speak with an attorney.
Contact Our Philadelphia Teenage Driver Accident Attorney
Ensuring you get the compensation you deserve means having an experienced and aggressive automobile accident attorney. You can count on the team at Cooper Schall & Levy to have your back every step of the way. Call us today to find out your legal rights and get started on your case.