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.

car accident

What Percentage of Car Accidents Are Caused by Human Error?

When you get behind the wheel of your car every day, you feel confident about your ability to drive safely and reach your destination. Without this assumption, roads across the United States would be empty every day. However, a shocking amount of people consistently underestimate their driving skills and experience. Once you find out how many car accidents are caused by driver error, you may choose to keep your distance from other drivers.

Causes of Car Crashes

One of the primary agencies that conducts research on roadway and driver safety is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In a study looking at critical reasons of car accidents, they found that 94% of car accidents are caused by drivers. Vehicles, environmental factors, and other unknown reasons are responsible for 2% of crashes each.

Within the category of driver-caused crashes, there are several additional categorizations, including recognition errors, decision errors, and performance errors.

Recognition Errors

Recognition errors are those caused by a driver failing to identify, see, or recognize an obstacle or change in road conditions. If a driver fails to pay attention to the road, is distracted while driving, or isn’t properly watching conditions around them, a recognition error could cause a crash.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, a substantial amount of fatal crashes are caused by recognition errors. About 5.7% of fatal crashes are caused by distracted drivers.

Decision Errors

If a driver is properly watching the road and the conditions around them but does not properly assess the safety of a specific choice, they could be guilty of a decision error. Common decision errors include:

  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Misconstruing others’ actions
  • Performing illegal maneuvers
  • Misjudging other drivers’ speed
  • Misjudging distance between cars
  • Driving too fast around a curve

These are significant factors in many fatal crashes. Per the III, nearly 17% of fatal crashes are caused by driving too fast for conditions or driving higher than is legally permitted. Failure to yield right of way is responsible for more than 7% of fatal crashes and failing to obey traffic signals or signs causes another 4% of fatal accidents.

Performance Errors

Performance errors are those caused by actual physical mistakes made by drivers. Again, these are separate from decision errors, which are errors in judgment. Performance errors occur when you recognize a threat, properly assess it, but err in your physical execution. Examples include poor directional control and overcompensation.

Overcorrecting causes 3.5% of fatal car crashes in the United States and failure to stay in proper lane causes more than 7% of fatal accidents.

Accounting for Human Error After a Car Crash

After a car accident, no one wants to accept blame. The driver who caused the crash may claim that they did the right thing to avoid a crash and allege that their car malfunctioned. They may indicate that unclear road signage caused the crash. These situations are quite rare. Remember, research indicates that about 94% of accidents can be traced back to human error.

This is one reason that we always recommend speaking to a personal injury attorney after a car accident.  No matter how apologetic the other party is or how much they vow to change their driving habits in the future, they absolutely must be held accountable for the errors they made that led to your injuries. A personal injury attorney can investigate your accident, figure out how the other driver erred in their judgment or perception, and ensure that they are held accountable for your injuries, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

Call Us for Help with Your Car Accident Claim

Have you been injured in a car accident? If you have, you need to act quickly to get the compensation you deserve and avoid being taken advantage of by insurance companies. The team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey P.C. has handled countless car accident cases, and we are fiercely dedicated to making sure every client gets what they deserve. If you or someone you love has been in a car accident caused by someone else, we are here to help. Fill out our contact form or call us at 251-260-3815 to set up a consultation.