For young teens growing up today, getting a driver’s license is a right of passage, making teenage drivers on the roadways a common factor for drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death for teens in America today. Research shows that teens 16 – 19 are three times more likely than drivers over 19 to get into a car accident that ends in fatality. One reason is teens are often found to be remis in using their seatbelts. In addition, drinking was found to be responsible for 22% of fatal car crashes involving teens in a 2010 highway safety survey.
Teenagers are less experienced than the average adult driver. They are less adept at assessing danger and identifying risks. They tend to speed while driving more and allow less distance between vehicles on the roads.
If someone is injured in a car crash caused by a teen driver, they may be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Further, if someone falls victim to a fatal car crash they did not cause, their loved ones may be able to bring a wrongful death suit against the responsible party, possibly recovering compensatory damages. That includes medical costs, out of pocket costs and even pain and suffering.
Who is Responsible When a Teenager Causes Injury in an Automobile Accident?
Often, when a teenager is covered under insurance, it’s their parents’ policy that covers them. If that is the case, when they get into an accident, it’s the insurer’s responsibility to cover any liability for damage or injury that results. Typically, the insurer will look to defend the teen driver against any liability claims, even if those claims are legitimate. Should they fail in doing so, an accident victim or their family may bring action against the company.
Can a Parent be Held Responsible When a Teen Driver Causes an Accident?
Typically, in Illinois, parents cannot be held responsible for personal injury damages when their teen has a true accident. But when an established pattern of reckless or negligent behavior can be made, or when the acts are intentional, parents can be called to task legally for their actions.
Generally speaking, parents often own the vehicles their teens drive. When that parent knows or should know or be aware of the fact that their teenager is not fit to driver a vehicle, the parent can be held responsible for any accidents caused by that teen under the legal theory of negligent entrustment.
Say, for instance, a teen has an established pattern of alcohol abuse, frequently coming home inebriated, and perhaps even driving while drunk. They should understand that their teen has a propensity to get into accidents if they are allowed to drive, given this pattern. Parents who, therefore, look the other way, when that teen gets behind the wheel and causes an accident may, indeed, be held liable for personal injury damages, which may include pain and suffering and even punitive damages.
It’s a parent’s responsibility to ensure that their teen is acting responsibly on the roads. If they are negligent in that responsibility and the teen has shown that they are indeed a danger behind the wheel, those parents may be brought to task legally for it.
Bringing a personal injury claim against an insurer or parents when a teen causes severe injury in a car accident can be a complex endeavor. Seeking the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help navigate the filing of your motor vehicle accident claim, meeting the burden of proof in your case and negotiating the full scope of damages to which you are entitled is often a wise choice for those seeking to recover damages.
If you’re looking for a skilled Chicago personal Injury lawyer, who will fight hard to win you the highest award damages possible in your case, call Bizzieri Law Offices at 773.881.9000. There is no cost for a case review and we never collect a fee unless we recover damages for you.