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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.

teen driving safety

Keeping Your Teen Safe Behind the Wheel

For parents, few days are as nerve-racking as the day that their teen begins driving. There are many good reasons for this. Teenagers don’t yet have fully developed brains, particularly in the prefrontal cortex, which controls decision making, appropriate social behavior, and complex cognitive behavior.

Luckily, there are steps you can take that leave you with more choices than “give your teen the keys and hope for the best” and “never let them drive.” Use these tips to keep your teen safe. If you do find yourself in a crash, turn to the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey for the help you need. Call us at 251-260-3815 to get started.

Be a Good Example

One of the best ways to encourage safe driving is to be a good example. If you tell your child to avoid distractions every time they are behind the wheel but text constantly while driving, what do you think they’ll actually choose to do when they are driving? If you tell them to leave plenty of space between cars and stay calm but ride someone’s bumper to keep someone from sneaking in and honk when they cut in anyway, what do you think they’ll do?

If you want your safe driving message to actually stick, you need to live it.

Create a Culture of Communication

If kids are in unsafe situations, it’s important that they feel comfortable asking you for help. Imagine, for example, your teenager ending up at a high school party. Under enormous peer pressure, they have two drinks and have to drive home. Would you rather have them try the drive, fearing your rage if they get caught, or reach out to you and ask for help? Mistakes do happen, and your teen should know that they can reach out to you for help before they unintentionally make the situation worse.

Set Clear Limits for Passengers

Passengers are one of the greatest sources of distraction for drivers, and especially for teens. Set firm limits beforehand and explain to your teen why they cannot have a car full of friends. This is where encouraging communication can be helpful. If your teen’s first instinct is to find a way to skirt the rules and not get caught, you’ll have a hard time enforcing this. If you have a relationship where they respect your rules even if they don’t like them, this will go much more smoothly.

Forbid Distractions and Find Ways to Enforce This Rule

Cell phones are extremely dangerous for teen drivers. As teenagers become more accustomed to driving, they may feel like it’s safe to text or check social media while they drive. Be a good example in this area. When you drive, make a habit of putting your phone in the lockbox or otherwise out of reach. If it makes you feel safer, look into apps and phone settings that prevent the phone from working while the car is in motion.

Consider a Speed Tracker

Speeding is, unfortunately, part of the teenage driving experience. However, speeding comes with serious consequences. Not only does your teen risk tickets, fines, and increases in car insurance, they could cause a serious accident. Some car insurance companies have widgets that you put in the car to track speeding, sudden stops, and other unsafe driving behavior. This allows you to keep track of your teenaged driver’s behavior.

Often, simply knowing that their parent is watching is enough to encourage teens to make safer choices. However, note that this type of device can also cause your car insurance to go up if your teen regularly engages in dangerous driving behaviors, so be ready to enforce consequences if that happens.

Reach Out to Burns, Cunningham & Mackey Today

No matter how careful you and your teen are, accidents do happen. When they do, you deserve legal representation that has your best interests in mind. We can help. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, we help accident victims get the compensation they deserve. Whether we can secure a fair settlement out of court or we have to fight for you in the courtroom, we’re ready. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 251-260-3815 or reaching out to us online.