Most high school students, between 15 and 18 years old, are at an age where they are preparing for the next big milestone; achieving their learner’s permit and driver’s license. Getting the opportunity to get behind the wheel can be a very exciting and nerve-wracking moment for young adolescents. Unfortunately, student drivers pose a great risk for more accidents on the road. It can be very intimidating driving amongst experienced and certified drivers. Whether they are driving with a learner’s permit or have become newly licensed, these teenagers are not yet ready to take on the same level of driving responsibility as adults. Student drivers need to be prepared for the amount of responsibility that comes with getting the freedom to drive yourself.
Adolescent drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their lack of maturity, lack of skills and lack of experience. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,255 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes in 2017.
Claims Against the Student Driver
If you are injured in a crash caused by the reckless or negligent actions of a student driver, you may be able to seek compensation from the student – or his or her insurer – directly. Your personal injury claim would be based on a negligence theory of liability. This basically means that if the student was not driving in a reasonable, safe manner which caused a collision, the student can be held liable for any resulting injuries.
Student drivers do not generally have their own car insurance policy. If the student driver is a minor, however, it is likely that they will be covered under a parent or guardian’s car insurance policy.
Claims Against the Instructor
You may also have a claim against the driver’s education instructor who was sitting besides the student who caused the collision. A student driver instructor has a duty to keep an experienced set of eyes on the road alongside the student driver. Students rely on their instructor’s expertise to learn how to drive safely. An instructor is also trained to immediately respond and intervene in emergency situations. If the instructor fails to take necessary and reasonable steps to prevent a collision, they may also be liable for any resulting crash.
Claims Against the Driving School
If you are injured in an accident caused by a student driver, you may also have a claim against the driving school. This part of the claim generally tends to get a little complicated. The different liabilities can include:
– Vicarious liability: The driving school may be held responsible for the negligence of its employees based on a vicarious theory of liability because they are responsible for managing and training their employees.
– Negligent hiring: Driving schools can also be held liable if they fail to properly check the background of an instructor employee before hiring them. If the school hires someone they know or should have known would be a poor employee, they can be held liable for that employee’s actions.
– Improper maintenance of vehicles: If a driving school allows a student to use one of their cars that have faulty equipment which ultimately causes an accident, they can be held responsible for that crash.
If you or a loved one has, you need to consult with and hire an Orange County car accident attorney.