A car accident is scary for anyone, but it’s especially terrifying for a teen driver. After having their license for just a short time, suddenly they hear the sickening sound of metal hitting metal in a car crash. Now what?
It’s important for teen drivers to stay calm after an accident, even though it’s very difficult at this high-stress moment. What happens next could affect them and their family financially, emotionally, medically, and legally.
Here’s a closer look at California’s laws for teen drivers, including how much liability parents have in these accidents, and what to do after a teen’s crash.
California Laws for Teen Drivers
The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that teen drivers are at a much higher risk of causing serious road accidents than other drivers. When a teen driver is behind the wheel and has one or more passengers in the car, everyone’s risk of death in a fatal crash rises by 51%.
Safety concerns are the primary reason teen drivers in California must obey a slightly different set of rules than everyone else on the road. Drivers under age 18 are issued provisional licenses that come with certain restrictions.
With a provisional license, a teen may drive alone, as long as they avoid collisions and traffic violations. In the first 12 months after being licensed, drivers are forbidden from driving between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and cannot transport passengers under 20 years old, unless accompanied a parent or guardian who is a licensed driver, a California-licensed driver who is at least 25, or a licensed or certified driving instructor.
Parents’ Liability for Their Teens’ Accidents
If you’re the parent of a teen driver, ensure they’re thoroughly familiar with the rules of the road as well as the special restrictions for provisional drivers. Help them understand that if they are stopped by a police officer or are in an accident, it’s not enough to say, “I didn’t know.” All drivers are expected to know the law.
In California, parents of drivers under the age of 18 are required to sign a consent form before their child can drive. This means if the teen driver causes an accident, the parent can be held responsible. Parents can revoke their consent for responsibility before their child turns 18, but if they do so, the teen driver loses their driving privileges.
If a teenager causes an accident, drives drunk, drives on drugs, damages someone’s property, or injures someone, their parents can be held liable. When a teen has a history of using alcohol or drugs, this information will we heavily against the parents in establishing liability.
Teen drivers can face an array of legal consequences, in addition to their parents’ liability for the crash. Teens can be cited for unsafe driving, face misdemeanor charges, lose their license for 30 days, or even have their license suspended beyond age 18.
This is why it’s important for parents to consider their child’s individual capacity for driving safely and establish boundaries for safe driving. Consider requiring your teen to keep their phone locked in the glove box while driving, wear their seat belt, avoid driving passengers, drive only during daylight hours, and check in with you before and after they drive to a new location.
After a Teen Driver’s Accident, You Can Sue
Whether you’re the parent of a teen driver or you were injured in an accident with a teen driver, California law allows injured parties to sue if the accident was caused by someone else. Each accident is unique, but there may be circumstances that help establish liability.
Consider these factors:
● Was the teen driver using their cellphone before the crash?
● Did they have multiple passengers?
● Were they driving during restricted hours or under restricted conditions?
● Did the accident cause severe injuries?
● Was someone’s life at risk?
An injured driver can pursue a personal injury settlement by hiring a lawyer and requesting compensation from a teen driver’s parents and their auto insurance company. Contact a California lawyer who has experience with these types of cases and will help you secure a positive outcome.
“After getting rear-ended by a distracted driver, I was absolutely clueless as to what to do and where to turn. After a friend recommended me to Sally, my problems quickly faded. Sally and her team worked tirelessly to make sure that I was taken care of on all fronts. Not only did I resolve my issues and get the settlement that I needed, but I got the medical care that I so desperately needed in that moment. Thank you so much, Sally! While I hope I never have to use a personal injury lawyer again, you will get the first call should that need arise!” – Scott
Experience a serious car accident with a teen driver?
Check out our Car Accident Page to learn more about how the process works.
We Handle Your Personal Injury Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including teen car accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details. We truly care about the citizens of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.