Who Is Liable in a Teen Driver Accident?
Teenage driving accidents can range from severe to major, resulting in injury. Unfortunately, many statistics have proven that teen drivers are among the most dangerous on the road. If a teenager has been involved in a car accident, it can be challenging to determine who is liable. That’s why it’s often best to consider seeking guidance from an experienced Ohio car accident attorney. Let’s take a look at a few alarming statistics from the CDC below:
- In 2018, car accident deaths among teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 resulted in around $4.8 billion in work loss and medical costs.
- In 2019, approximately 258,000 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries sustained in a car accident.
At The Henry Law Firm, we are knowledgeable and experienced with the laws surrounding teen driving accidents. We can help you determine liability and obtain compensation if you were involved in a car accident caused by a teenage driver.
Ohio Teenage Driving Laws
Ohio has implemented numerous laws to not only keep teenage drivers safe behind the wheel, but also other drivers safe from teen drivers. For example, in 2015, a new law came into effect that states probationary drivers who are younger than 18 will need to abide by a range of restrictions for the first year after receiving their license. These restrictions include:
- It’s prohibited to use a mobile phone for any reason while driving.
- Seatbelts must be worn at all times.
- Driving between midnight and 6 am is not permitted unless a parent or legal guardian is in the vehicle.
- Driving more than one family member at a time is prohibited.
Four Common Reasons for Ohio Teenage Driver Accidents
There are numerous reasons why teenage drivers are involved in auto accidents in Ohio. At The Henry Law Firm, we have discovered during our years of representing our loyal clients that there are a few common reasons why teenage driver accidents occur in Ohio. Read on to learn more.
- Driving while under the influence: Often, teenagers will operate a vehicle after they have consumed drugs or alcohol without seeking out alternative forms of transportation. Many will choose to drive themselves home instead of calling an Uber, taxi, or parent to take them home.
- Inexperienced driving: Many teenage drivers get involved in accidents during their first few years of driving because they are not skilled at traveling at night or during difficult weather conditions like heavy rains and snow.
- Reckless driving: Unfortunately, it’s easy for teenage drivers to feel overconfident in their skills as drivers, which can lead to them driving recklessly. Additionally, teenage drivers are more likely to engage in reckless driving like speeding, tailgating, and incorrect lane changes to impress their friends.
- Distracted driving: Distracted driving doesn’t only affect adult drivers. Teenagers often get into auto accidents because they are driving while distracted. Often small things like changing the radio station, checking a text message, playing an online game, scrolling through social media, and talking with friends can cause them to take their eyes off the road.
When Can a Teenage Driver Be Liable for an Accident?
When a teen driver accident is assessed to determine fault, the legal concept of negligence will be applied. This theory states that a driver has a specific duty to drive reasonably.
Suppose a teen driver fails to meet this duty, and injuries are incurred by others involved in the accident. In that case, the negligent teen driver can be held legally liable for resulting damages like medical bills, vehicle damages, and lost wages. For this reason, teenage drivers must be covered by insurance when driving the same as any older driver.
According to the law, it does not matter if teen drivers are less experienced at driving, meaning they can still be held accountable for negligence if they did not drive reasonably to avoid an accident.
Parent Liability and a Teenage Driver Accident
Below we have identified when parents can be held liable for a teenage driver’s car accident. Which legal concept applies to your case will depend on the circumstances of the teenage accident in which your child was involved. At our Ohio firm, we can help you determine parental liability in a teen driver accident and develop a case to help you resolve the often stressful situation.
Vicarious liability states that a parent can be held liable for the wrongdoing of a teen driver if the teen driver was acting under the authority or direction of the parent.
Essentially, according to this legal theory of vicarious liability, parents can be held liable if their child (the teen driver) caused an accident while undertaking any family “purpose.” “Purpose” can constitute almost anything if the parent controls the teen driver’s actions and use of the car involved in the accident.
Let’s look at a simple real-world example of this legal theory. Should a parent ask their teenager to drive to the post office to collect the parent’s mail, the parent could be liable if their teenage driver caused an accident while completing this errand.
Additionally, even if the teen driver did not collect the mail and chose to participate in a pleasure driving trip, the parent can still be held liable because they sent the teen driver on an errand.
In cases involving a minor driver, a parent can be held accountable for negligent entrustment. This type of liability comes into play when their teen has been involved in a car accident if they explicitly knew or should have known that their teen driver’s inexperience made them a danger to others on the road.
To understand this legal theory, let’s look at an example of negligent entrustment. Let’s say a parent willingly allows a teen driver to take a trip across the county knowing that their teen has recently received a traffic ticket and been involved in two other accidents in less than a year. If their teen causes an accident, they can be held liable because they knew that their teenager was dangerous to others on the road – and they entrusted that driver with the vehicle.
Contact an Ohio Auto Accident Lawyer About Your Case
Determining liability in an auto accident involving a teen driver may be complex. It could become a drawn-out event unless you have the legal knowledge necessary to resolve the situation.
Fortunately, with assistance from an auto accident attorney from The Henry Law Firm, you won’t need to stress. We will evaluate every aspect of your teen driver accident case to determine the best solution that is the most favorable for you and your child. To speak with one of our experienced team members, you can fill out our online form or call us at 440.337.0083.