teen drivers

Can Parents Be Held Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Their Teenage Child?

Nothing makes drivers quite as nervous as realizing that they’re sharing the road with a teen driver. There’s a reason that people will plan their entire commutes to avoid the high school at the start and end of the school day, and it all comes down to the reputation of teenage drivers.

If you get hurt in an accident caused by a teenager, you may wonder what your options are. Can you only recover what the teenage driver can personally pay, or can you seek compensation from their parents? Learn more about your options now by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 800-574-4332.

Dangers of Teen Driving

While teens often believe they get unfairly blamed for the state of American roads, statistics do show that teenagers are considerably less safe than adult drivers. Teenagers are much more likely to drive while distracted, particularly when it comes to using their phones while driving.

Teenagers also lack the experience and judgment needed to respond to changes in traffic or weather. Car accidents are a top cause of death for teenagers, and unfortunately, a shocking amount of those crashes involve an impaired teenage driver.

If you’re worried about an accident with a teen driver, you’re not alone. There are options for you if you are concerned about getting the compensation you deserve.

Alabama’s Parental Responsibility Laws

After an accident, victims often turn to their state’s parental responsibility laws. Alabama’s parental responsibility law states that, in some circumstances, parents and guardians can be held financially responsible for damage caused by their child. However, the statute only makes them liable for damage “caused by the intentional, willful, or malicious act or acts of the minor.” Unless you can prove that the teenager intentionally caused the accident—which is pretty rare—this statute will likely not be helpful to you.

Parental Negligence

You may be able to hold the parents accountable by showing how parental negligence caused the crash. The parents may be held liable for their teen’s actions if they knew the teenager was at risk of driving unsafely and still allowed them to drive. If the teenager had a history of driving while impaired, getting speeding tickets, or driving while distracted, it would be reasonable for the parent to revoke their driving privileges. If the parent acted negligently in allowing their teenager to drive, you may be able to seek compensation through that avenue.

Insurance Coverage

In most cases, you don’t need to be too concerned about parental liability. The vast majority of teenagers are covered under their parents’ insurance plan, which allows you to get compensation without having to collect directly from the teenager or parents. Some parents even add additional coverage when their teen starts driving in anticipation of situations like these.

If the other driver is covered under their parents’ insurance policy, it’s just a matter of proving liability, demonstrating damages, and getting the insurance company to offer a fair settlement amount. This is far easier than trying to find a way to sue the parents directly for the crash.

It is still highly recommended that you retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney in this situation. Proving liability is challenging. Even if you can do that on your own, negotiating with an insurance company is often a fruitless task for accident victims. Insurance companies go to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying out a fair settlement, and they often won’t negotiate in good faith until they are forced to by an attorney.

Your attorney can track down information on the other party’s insurance coverage and start building a case for you. By taking over negotiations for you, they give you more time to heal and recuperate from your injuries. It’s important to contact an attorney promptly after your accident to preserve evidence and get your case started.

Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

If you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by a teenage driver, turn to the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey. We know how stressful these situations can be and we fight for fair compensation for every single client. Get started now by calling us at 800-574-4332 or contacting us online.

I was a Passenger in a Car Accident. What Are My Rights?

Getting in an accident as a driver is fairly straightforward. If you get hurt and it’s your fault, your insurance company will have to pay the other party’s damages. If you get hurt and it’s the other driver’s fault, you may be entitled to compensation from their insurance company. But what happens if you are just a passenger when a car crash occurs?

If you have been injured in an auto accident in Alabama, you deserve legal representation that looks out for you. Schedule a consultation with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey now by calling us at 800-574-4332.

Right to Compensation for Your Injuries

You are entitled to compensation for your injuries. As a passenger, you had no role in the accident, so you deserve to be made whole for what you’ve lost. It is important to seek medical care shortly after an accident, so hopefully you got checked out right away. The liable party, whether it’s the driver of the car you were in or someone else, should pay for those expenses.

Right to Compensation for Lost Income

Being injured can leave you out of work, whether it’s for a few days or a lifetime. That’s a serious blow to any family, and it’s not a loss you should have to carry alone—especially when the accident was not your fault. Keep track of time you have to spend away from work and give your documentation to your attorney.

Don’t forget to note any days that you had to leave early because you were unable to perform your work tasks or you were in too much pain to keep working. Anything related to the accident that impacts your income should be documented and reported.

Right to Compensation for Other Losses

After a car accident, your losses go beyond your medical bills and time off of work. Other types of compensation you may be entitled to include:

  • Property damage, if anything of yours was destroyed in the car crash
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Factors Complicating Your Passenger Rights

While you may have a right to compensation after a car accident, actually recovering that compensation can be very difficult. First, you may hit a roadblock if it’s hard to determine who is at fault for the accident. Many accidents are cut-and-dry, so it’s easy to see whose error in judgment led to the collision. Those that are more complicated could leave you waiting a long time for compensation.

You may also have difficulty collecting compensation if the liable driver does not have insurance or is underinsured. No matter how high your damages are, you can typically only collect up to the policy limits. If the driver is completely uninsured, you may not be able to collect any compensation. You would have to sue them directly, and any award would come from their assets. But drivers without insurance aren’t likely to have significant available assets.

Another complicating factor is when the liable driver is your friend or family member. Getting compensation after a car accident shouldn’t be a personal issue that affects your relationship with a loved one, but too often, people think of it as a personal slight. Even if the liable driver is close to you, the compensation you receive will come from their insurance company, not from them directly.

How an Attorney Can Help

As you can see, accident claims for passengers can be complicated. Neither party’s insurance company is on your side, so you don’t want to rely on what they tell you deserve and can recover. Instead, bring in an attorney who can look at the situation objectively and fight for your best interests.

A personal injury attorney can look at the facts of the case, determine whether or not you are entitled to compensation, and help you fight for what you’re owed. They will also handle negotiations, allowing you to avoid uncomfortable situations with your loved one.

Find Out How Burns, Cunningham & Mackey Can Help

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you deserve a personal injury attorney who’s willing to advocate for you every step of the day. Learn more about your legal options now by calling us at 800-574-4332 or contacting us online.

parking lot accident

Who is At Fault in a Parking Lot or Garage Accident?

No matter how well lit a parking lot or garage is, accidents happen. Sometimes a driver is distracted, sometimes they are in a rush and take risks they shouldn’t. No matter what the cause of a parking lot or garage accident is, you may need to fight to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries and damaged vehicle.

We’re here to help. If you’ve been injured or your car has been damaged in a parking lot or garage accident, contact Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815 to learn more about your options.

Failure to Yield

The majority of parking lot and garage accidents come down to a failure to yield. Laws strictly govern who must yield and when, but those laws are often ignored in a parking lot or garage.

A person in a parking spot must yield to someone who is already in the lane of traffic. That is to say, if someone is in a parking spot wanting to get out, they must wait until the lane of traffic they are entering is completely clear to do so.

This doesn’t always happen, of course. Someone may have a little bit of space and start backing out, knowing that the people in the lane of traffic are likely to stop and wait for them. However, if they do this in front of a car that does not have time to stop, they will be found at fault for the accident.

What about two cars that are backing out simultaneously? When drivers from opposite sides are backing into the same lane of traffic, they may be watching the road but fail to check for other drivers entering the lane of traffic. When this occurs, both parties are typically liable. They both have an obligation to make sure that the lane is safe to enter.

When a Car is Not Parked Properly

Liability gets a little murkier and more complicated when a car is illegally parked. If a driver is navigating a parking lot or garage and strikes a legally parked car, they are obviously liable for the damage they caused to the vehicle. However, if they strike an illegally parked vehicle, the owner of the improperly parked car could be liable.

Which Lane Has Right of Way?

The labyrinth of a parking garage or highway can make it difficult to know when it’s your turn to go and when you need to yield. A lane of traffic that has direct access to a roadway has right of way over lanes that feed into that main lane of traffic. Consider a parking garage with one long lane that runs parallel to the roadway. Drivers must travel that lane and turn right to reach the roadway entry. Several other lanes that run perpendicular to the main roadway feed into this main lane. Someone traveling in the main lane has right of way, and someone trying to enter from a feeder lane must yield.

The Property Owner’s Role

Not all accidents are caused by negligent drivers. A poorly designed or maintained parking lot or garage could also be the issue. If signs are unclear about the direction of traffic, the location of the exit, and potential blind spots, the property owner may be liable for crashes that occur. Other risk factors include low visibility caused by poor lighting, sharp turns that force drivers to turn without a clear view, unclear lane marking, and narrow lanes that make accidents inevitable.

Unfortunately, receiving compensation for parking lot and garage accidents can be challenging. Since these accidents are on private property, police may be unwilling to help or write citations. That’s why you need an attorney. They can act quickly to get security footage, analyze the scene of the crash, and build a strong case for you.

Contact Us for Help with Your Parking Lot Accident

Have you been injured in a parking lot or garage accident? We know that these accidents often come with lots of frustration and stress. Rather than fighting with the property owner or security company to get the evidence you need, let us help. We’ll fight on your behalf to get the compensation you rightfully deserve. Schedule a consultation now by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815 or getting in touch with us online.

giving a statement to insurance company

Are You Required to Provide a Recorded Statement to an Insurance Company?

You’ve been involved in a car accident. You’re hurting pretty badly, and you aren’t sure when your car’s going to be fixed. Your cell phone rings—it’s the other driver’s insurance company, and they want to know about the accident. Then they ask for a recorded statement—what’s your next step?

Learn more about how to handle these requests, and for more specialized advice regarding your personal injury case, call Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 251-260-3815.

The Short Answer

The short answer is no, you should not give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company. There is no law that requires you to do so. Not only are you not required to honor this request, we highly recommend against doing so.

The Truth is Not an Absolute Defense

When we give this advice, many people wonder why. After all, what does it hurt if you tell the truth about the accident and how it has affected you? Truth is not an absolute defense—not against criminal activity and not against liability in a car accident. Even if you tell your account completely and accurately, you can bet that those words will pop up again during settlement negotiations or your court case. And when they do, they can be twisted around and taken out of context to damage your claim.

Your Words Can Only Hurt You

To understand why, you have to remember who is asking for the statement. The other party’s insurer is not your friend. Yes, the representative may be nice on the phone. Yes, they may seem concerned about your injuries and seem like they want to make things right. However, they do not have your best interests in mind.

Their goal is to save their company as much as possible. They won’t take your statement, see that their client was obviously at fault, and give up. They will pick through your statement to find things they can use to discredit you and offer less money. The bottom line is the things you say in a recorded statement can only hurt you—they will not be used to help you.

Your Statement Could Affect Your Settlement

This all means that what you say during a recorded statement could actually affect the amount you receive in a settlement. Assume that you do give a recorded statement. The adjuster will go through it and compare it, word for word, to what you told the police and what is written in the police report. Any discrepancy, no matter how minor or unimportant, puts a hole in your story and gives them a justification to doubt your credibility. Anything you say that may indicate that your injuries aren’t as severe as reported will also be used against you and drive down the value of your settlement.

Do not give a recorded statement to the other party’s insurance company without first consulting with a lawyer. Again, there is no law requiring you to do so, and you are not doing yourself any favors by giving them the statement. Instead, reach out to a personal injury attorney to discuss your case and legal options. And if you have moderate to severe injuries, it is usually best to let an attorney take your case and handle communications with the insurance company.

What if My Insurance Company is Asking?

You may wonder what to do if your insurance company is the one asking for a statement. To start, it is relatively rare for the victim’s own insurance company to need a recorded statement. Recorded statements are primarily used to poke holes in the claimant’s testimony, so they are not likely to as for one unless it is an uninsured motorist claim. If they do as for a statement, it is still not in your best interests to it to them without first speaking with an attorney.

Turn to Burns, Cunningham & Mackey After Your Accident

When you get hurt in an accident, insurance companies are not on your side. This makes it very difficult to know who you can really trust as you try to get the compensation you deserve. We’re here to help you navigate this process and fight for the money you are owed. To schedule a consultation with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, call us at 251-260-3815 or contact us online.