Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teenage drivers. Often, teenagers do not have the experience to react appropriately when an unexpected situation arises on the road. They may take greater risks than a more mature person would. While they do have faster reflexes than older people, this may not be sufficient to protect them or people sharing the road with them. It may be possible to hold parents responsible for teen driver accidents in some cases. Folsom car accident lawyer Travis G. Black formerly worked in insurance and knows how adjusters evaluate cases. He may be able to help you assert your rights.
Bringing a Claim Based on a Teen Driver Accident
California has a multiple-stage licensing process. This allows teenagers to get exposed to increasingly challenging driving situations over a period of time. A teenager can apply for a provisional permit at age 15½. This allows them to practice with their parent, a guardian, an instructor, or an adult who is 25 years old or older with a valid California driver’s license. The teenager must practice driving for a minimum of 50 hours before a provisional license is granted.
A 16-year-old who has had a provisional permit for a minimum of six months and completed 50 hours of practice, as well as other requirements, is allowed to apply for a provisional license. The parent needs to certify that the requirements have been met, and the teen driver needs to pass a behind-the-wheel driving test. Teens must follow certain restrictions while on the provisional license. A full license is only available to a teen when they are 18 and have not had any court-ordered restrictions, probation, or suspensions.
California parents are required to sign a consent form to permit their minor child to drive. When they sign the form, they assume parental liability for accidents caused by their teen. However, they are released from liability after their son or daughter turns 18 or when they withdraw parental support by filing a Request for Cancellation. Withdrawal of consent can be done at any time, and it should be done if the parent realizes that their child is a dangerous driver. Once this withdrawal is filed, the minor teenager loses the privilege of driving.
Parents who know or should know about a history of drug or alcohol abuse, DUIs, or other red flags but still permit their child to borrow their car can be held liable for negligent entrustment. You need to show that the parent acted negligently to recover damages under this theory. Similarly, you may be able to hold a parent liable for negligence if they knew or should have known that their minor child had dangerous propensities and needed supervision while driving.
Another significant problem with teenage drivers is the use of cell phones or texting while driving. Cell phones, texts, social media, and apps should not be used while driving, since they distract a driver from reacting appropriately to potential hazards. About 10% of drivers involved in a fatal crash who are under age 20 were distracted at the time of the accident. As of 2017, it is prohibited in California for drivers to operate a vehicle while holding a cell phone, although using a cell phone on a mounting device or hands-free is legal.
Drivers on provisional licenses who are under age 18 should not be using any electronic devices while driving. If you believe that a teen driver was on their cell phone at the time of the accident that caused your injuries, we may be able to obtain discovery to determine whether the teenager was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the accident.