Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage for adolescents in America, but it can put them at serious risk of injury or even death. Motor vehicle accidents are the second-leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., and teen drivers are by far the most dangerous people on the road.
Drivers ages 16-17 cause nearly double the number of crashes as drivers ages 18-19, who themselves cause more crashes than all older drivers. That means that if someone hits you while you’re on the road in Alabama, there’s a good chance it will be a teen driver.
Teens ages 18-19 are legal adults, and that means filing personal injury claims against them works the same way as it does with any other driver. But what happens if the driver who hit you was 16-17 and a minor?
From the first day they get their license and start driving, teens must be insured. Most teens are insured under policies that fall under their parents’ policies. That means that filing a claim after a crash caused by a teen, including one that’s underage, plays out the same as it would if you were filing a claim against an adult driver.
First, you or your lawyer would prove that the teen driver caused the crash. Second, you or your lawyer would prove that the crash caused you to suffer damages, including injuries, disabilities, lost wages, and pain and suffering. And finally, you or your lawyer would determine how much money you’re owed and demand it from the teen’s auto insurer.
Yes, there are a few scenarios where your best option for getting compensation is to file a claim against the teen’s parents directly.
If the teen who caused your crash did so intentionally, you may be able to hold their parents liable for your damages. You can also sue their parents if they knowingly allowed their child to drive after they demonstrated they were a danger to others. This could include racking up numerous speeding tickets or having a history of driving while impaired or distracted.
Another example of suing a teen’s parents includes if the teen was driving the family vehicle and was uninsured and then causes a crash. This scenario often plays out when unlicensed teens “borrow” the family vehicle for a joyride and are involved in crashes because of inexperience, distraction, and poor driving skills.
Although many teen drivers ages 16-17 are covered under their parents’ auto insurance policies, teen drivers ages 18-19 are less likely to be. Once they’re legal adults, teens may drop off of their parents’ policies, and they may fail to purchase their own policies. That’s why it’s so important to have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy.
In Alabama, this coverage is offered to drivers by default when they choose an insurance policy. However, they aren’t legally required to have it, and some drivers opt out to save money. But opting out can be a bad move, especially considering that nearly 1 in 5 drivers in the state is uninsured. Being involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, including a teen with very little money of their own, can leave you paying for your expenses out of pocket—even if the crash wasn’t your fault.
Although some teen drivers cause crashes because of negligence—speeding, distraction, or alcohol consumption, just to name a few—many teens cause crashes because of inexperience. It’s easy to empathize with a new driver, even when they injure you in a collision. After all, we were all new and inexperienced to driving once, and everyone makes mistakes.
But regardless of why your accident occurred, you shouldn’t forgo pursuing compensation if you were injured. In most cases, filing a claim against a teen—including a minor—doesn’t result in any money coming out of their or their parents’ pockets. Instead, it comes for an auto insurance policy, whether it’s theirs or your own.
At Vance Law Firm, our Montgomery car accident lawyers know how to build successful claims after all types of crashes. Whether the driver who hit you was 16 or 61, we’ve got your back. Contact us today for a free consultation.