Teenagers are full of energy, and enthusiasm and believe they are invincible. Unfortunately, as any Ohio car accident attorney knows, they are also less careful behind the wheel. Many distractions, from the smartphone to loud music and lack of experience lead to a teen driver accident. When the moment comes to exchange contact and insurance information, the injured driver is at a loss: who exactly is responsible for paying for their damages? You cannot take a kid to court, right?
Fortunately, there are clear rules and laws for teenage drivers. They also have an obligation to carry insurance. And they are also under the guardianship of their parents until they turn 18 years old. While the case of a teen driver accident is, indeed, complex, an experienced Ohio car accident attorney will be able to help you win the fair compensation you deserve.
Read on to find out what you have to do if you are hurt in a teen driver accident and what are your options for financial recovery. But first, a few words on this specific type of traffic accident.
Ohio Laws for Teenage Drivers
In Ohio, all teenagers have the right to apply for a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Car, or a learner’s permit, when they are 15 years and 6 months old. This is necessary, because many teens have a part-time job, as they start being independent financially from their parents. Also, they need to go to and from school, as well as for personal reasons.
However, this learner’s permit issued to teen drivers is subject to various restrictions. Thus, drivers under the age of 16 must follow these rules:
- They cannot drive between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Exceptions to night driving are: when accompanied by a parent/guardian, when driving for school, work, or a religious event, and during an emergency.
- They can have only one non-family member as a passenger.
- The driver and all passengers must wear safety belts.
- The use of a mobile phone while driving is forbidden.
Once the teen driver turns 17, the rules become laxer:
- The night driving restriction becomes 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
- All kinds of passengers are allowed in the car.
If a teen driver accident involves breaking any of these rules, your Ohio car accident attorney may instruct you to file a lawsuit against their parents/guardians for negligent entrustment.
What Are the Most Common Causes of a Teen Driver Accident?
So many factors contribute to a car crash caused by a teenage driver. While circumstances differ from case to case, an Ohio car accident attorney knows that the leading reasons for such accidents are:
- Driver inexperience – a teenage driver is still learning the rules of the road and does not have the quick reflexes and the judgment necessary to avoid a collision
- Driving under influence – for anyone under 21, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.02%. Teenagers tend to get more impaired than adults even after consuming a small quantity of alcohol
- Distracted driving – unfortunately, teenagers are extremely attached to their mobile phones, always chatting or being active on social media. Sadly, some of them do that while they are driving
- Reckless driving – teen drivers are very likely to accept a dare, which is both dangerous and illegal, in order to impress their friends.
What to Do If You Are Involved in a Teen Driver Accident
These are the right steps to take if you were hurt in a crash caused by a teenage driver:
1. Report the Accident and Stay at the Crash Scene
Teenagers are less likely to know all the legal obligations they have after a traffic accident, so you should call 9-1-1 to report the accident and ask for an ambulance. Stay at the accident scene and instruct the other driver to do the same until the police officers arrive to investigate the crash.
Some young drivers get scared of the potential consequences and may try to flee the accident scene. Do not start a chase, but try to get a photo of the car with the license plate visible. It is the authorities’ job to find the reckless driver and decide what penalties to apply.
2. Do Not Confront the Teen Driver
You are understandably angry after a teen driver accident. You will have to go to the hospital, miss work, and accumulate medical care bills because a teenager was reckless or distracted behind the wheel. However, verbally or physically attacking the at-fault driver will not solve any of these issues. Instead, it will give the teen’s parents a just cause to sue you for assault and battery – in which case you would end up with more costs and legal problems, as well.
Instead, stay calm and exchange contact and insurance information, refraining from any comments as to who is at fault for the crash. Your Ohio car accident attorney will ensure that you get compensated by the liable party.
3. Allow the Teenager to Call Their Parents at the Accident Scene
This is not a power move, or an attempt to get away with anything, but a legal right. A teen driver is under the guardianship of their parents until they turn 18 years old. Thus, their parents must be privy to any legal proceedings taken against their child.
So, Who Pays for Your Damages in a Teen Driver Accident?
The fact that the driver is a minor does not absolve them from the obligation to show a duty of care to other drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Thus, the teen driver is liable to pay for your damages out of their liability insurance policy.
If they are underinsured or uninsured and hold no resources and assets, then the parents or guardians are liable for the damages. Also, you may be entitled to sue the adults directly if your Ohio car accident attorney finds out that you have one of these two legal grounds:
- Vicarious responsibility – the teen driver accident happened while the minor driver was undertaking a trip at their parent’s instructions (to pick up siblings from school, buy groceries, etc.)
- Negligent entrustment – the parents allowed the teenager to use their car although their inexperience makes them unfit to drive a vehicle.
Let an Ohio Car Accident Attorney Win Your Compensation
In a teen driver accident, things can get messy. You may not know where to file your claim or whom to sue. You may be accused of being violent and intimidating towards the minor driver. This is why you should not get personally involved in any discussions after the crash but seek legal representation as soon as possible.
An experienced Ohio car accident attorney will review your case and, if it has merits, will represent you and fight to win your compensation. You won’t have to deal with the negligent young driver or their parents more than is reasonably expected during legal proceedings. Call us now to schedule a free case review: 844-853-7373!