Even the most careful of teen drivers is at a higher risk of getting involved in an accident than other populations, simply because teens lack substantial experience behind the wheel. They may also be more likely to drive while using a cellphone or other electronic device, drive recklessly, drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or drive while distracted by other teenage passengers. If a teen driver struck your car and you incurred financial losses, you can speak with a personal injury lawyer about your legal rights and options. Auto accident attorneys can file personal injury claims on behalf of Gaithersburg-area residents who have been injured by drivers of any age.
Filing a Claim Against the Minor
In criminal cases, young offenders may be tried as juveniles, in which case they may receive more lenient sentences than adult offenders. However, under personal injury law, teen drivers who behave negligently or recklessly are not afforded special protections simply because of their age. Your personal injury lawyer may file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit directly against the teen driver. The lawyer may use evidence of the teen’s negligence, such as texting while driving, to help establish liability and recover compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Filing a Claim Against the Minor’s Parents
It’s less common for a personal injury lawyer to file a claim against the teen driver’s parents. This approach used to be standard practice under a doctrine known as vicarious liability. Now, however, it’s often necessary to demonstrate that the parents knew the child was likely to get involved in an accident, yet failed to stop the child from using the car. For example, the parents may have known that the child had a driving history that included speeding, running red lights, prior accidents, or driving while distracted. The child may also have a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
Filing a Claim Under the Family Purpose Doctrine
In some states, the family purpose doctrine may apply. This doctrine states that the owner of a car may be held liable when that car was being driven negligently by another family member. This doctrine only applies in cases in which the teen driver used the car with consent for any family-related purpose.