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Filing a Claim for an Accident Caused by a Teen Driver

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

In Michigan, teen driver accident claims are common, given that adolescent motorists tend to have higher accident rates compared to other drivers. Teen drivers aged 16-19 have an accident rate of nearly three times as high as drivers aged 20 and older per mile driven.

If you’re injured in an accident with a teen driver, our car accident lawyers at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can help you navigate liability issues and seek compensation from the appropriate party, such as the teen’s parents.

Teen Driver Stats

Although not all teens are poor drivers, statistics show they are involved in more accidents than other age groups, according to statistics from both a national perspective and right here in Michigan:

National Teen Driving Statistics

In 2020, 1,885 young drivers lost their lives in traffic crashes, a 17% increase from the previous year. Despite representing a fraction of drivers, teen drivers accounted for 8.5% of fatal crashes. Nighttime driving is hazardous for teens, with a nearly threefold higher fatal crash rate compared to adults between 30 and 59.

The danger peaks during weekends, with 51% of teen crash fatalities occurring on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays in 2021. That same year, 583 teens between 16 and 19 who were killed in crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Michigan Teen Driving Statistics

In Michigan, teen drivers aged 15-20 represented 6.7% of the driving population in 2021. However, this age group was involved in 10.3% of all crashes and 7.7% of fatal crashes in 2020. They accounted for 7.3% of all traffic deaths, with over half being teen drivers.

8,161 teenagers and young adults were injured in motor vehicle crashes, representing 13.4% of all injured individuals. Speeding too fast was the most common hazardous action in fatal crashes, contributing to 19.8% of fatal accidents.

Common Causes of Teen Driver Accidents

Knowing what causes teens to crash can help your attorney look for evidence to prove liability for an accident involving a teen driver. The top reasons for teen-involved collisions include the following:

Inexperience

Being new to driving, teenagers often misjudge or overlook risky situations more than seasoned drivers. This lack of experience can cause them to make mistakes that result in serious accidents. Crash risk is high during the first months of licensure. 16-year-old drivers have a 1.5 times higher crash rate per mile than 18-19-year-olds.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving, primarily because of phone use, is a big issue for teen drivers.

A 2020 study found that 39% of high school students who drove admitted to texting or emailing while driving, highlighting the prevalence of distracted driving among teens.

Among drivers involved in crashes, teen drivers were almost twice as likely to be driving distracted compared to those aged 21 and older. Despite making up only 6.7% of Michigan’s drivers, individuals under 21 accounted for 18.1% of distracted driving accidents.

Speeding

Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and maintain shorter distances between vehicles. Speeding contributes to a substantial number of accidents involving teen drivers. 35% of male drivers and 18% of female drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding.

Drinking Alcohol Use

Although teens are not legally allowed to drink alcohol, many do, which can result in a higher number of accidents. In 2020, 546 teen drivers between 15 and 20 died due to alcohol involvement.

Proving Liability When You’re Hit by a Teen Driver

If you have an accident with a teen driver, establishing fault is essential to claim compensation for damages. This means demonstrating that the young driver acted carelessly or didn’t consider the safety of others.

Together with your attorney, you must show the following aspects of negligence to strengthen your compensation claim:

  • Duty of care. The teen driver had an obligation to drive safely and adhere to the rules of the road. This can include proving they had a valid driver’s license, which means they agreed to abide by Michigan’s traffic laws.
  • Breach of duty. You must show that the teen driver breached their duty of care through reckless or careless behavior, such as speeding or distracted driving.
  • Causation. You need to establish a direct link between the teen driver’s actions and the accident and injuries sustained. This can include medical records, police reports, or witness statements that show the teen caused the crash and that your injuries were due to the accident.
  • Damages. You must prove your losses, including medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering, as a result of the accident. Your attorney can help you show this through hospital or primary care bills, car shop repair invoices, and expert witness testimony.

The Role of the Teen Driver’s Parents or Another Adult

After a crash involving a teen driver, getting compensated usually involves negotiating a settlement with the teen’s parents, guardian, or another responsible adult. That’s because teens under 18 are legally minors.

Here are some common liability issues with adolescent drivers:

Parental Liability

In Michigan, parents shoulder responsibility for their teen drivers. The state has a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system to ease young drivers into safe driving habits.

During the Level 1 Learner’s License phase, teens can only drive with a licensed parent, guardian, or a designated licensed adult aged 21 or older. Parents play a major role in overseeing and supervising their teen’s driving during this phase, ensuring that their child meets the requirements to advance through the GDL levels safely.

Michigan’s driver’s license policies also require written consent or parental assumption of liability when teens apply for a full driver’s license. This means the parent assumes civil liability for damages caused by their child.

Insurance Coverage

Michigan requires teenagers who drive on its roads to have car insurance, whether they have a learner’s permit or a full license. Teens must maintain a valid no-fault auto insurance policy that includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP), liability, property damage, and property protection insurance.

Typically, teenagers are added to their parents’ existing car insurance policy as named drivers. This allows them to be covered under the same policy while still fulfilling the state’s insurance requirements.

Permissive Use

In Michigan, the legal concept of permissive use means that any adult—an older friend, aunt, uncle, or other family member—who allows a teen to drive their car could be held financially responsible for any damages or injuries in an accident.

If a teen is at fault in a crash, you could seek compensation from the adult who permitted the teen to use the vehicle.

Teen is Over 18

If the teen driver is 18 or older, you can file a claim directly against them or their insurance for damages. Where you file depends on their insurance coverage; if they’re still on their parent’s policy, you can file a claim with that insurance. You also have the option to file a lawsuit if necessary.

Process of Filing a Claim after a Teen Driving Incident

Teen driver accident claims can be complex due to liability issues. Our attorneys at Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. can determine responsibility in your case. We will help you with the following steps for filing a claim with the teen or their parent’s insurance:

Report the Claim

To initiate a teen driver insurance claim after an accident, you need to file a report. It’s advisable to do this with the assistance of an attorney. You can report through your own insurance company or the insurance that covers the teen driver.

  • Contact your insurance company. Inform your insurance provider about the accident and provide all relevant details, including information about the teen driver involved and any available evidence.
  • Contact the teen driver’s insurance. Have your attorney contact the teen’s insurance company to report the accident. This will trigger the investigation process with adjusters.

Investigate the Accident

Your attorney will investigate the accident to gather evidence and prove liability. This process involves:

  • Gathering statements. Collect statements from all parties involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses. These statements provide valuable insights into what transpired during the incident.
  • Obtaining police reports. If a police report was filed, obtain a copy. The report will contain valuable information about the accident, its details, and the responding officer’s assessment.
  • Identifying and gathering witness statements. Identify and collect contact information for any witnesses. Their testimony can help establish liability against the teen driver.

Evaluate Damages

After reporting the claim and gathering evidence, your attorney will evaluate your damages. This includes the following:

  • Property damage. Costs related to repairing or replacing your vehicle, such as rental expenses or repair shop costs.
  • Injuries. This includes medical bills, prescription expenses, and any other costs related to your medical care. We’ll assess the full scope of damages you’re entitled to based on your injuries.
  • Pain and suffering. We will also consider the physical and emotional pain and suffering you’ve experienced as a result of the accident. This covers the intangible damages like anxiety, fear, humiliation, and depression that impact your daily life.

Negotiate Settlement

After evaluating the damages, your attorney will assist you in submitting the official claim. The insurance company usually enters into discussions with your lawyer to determine a reasonable compensation amount.

During negotiations, our lawyers strive to obtain a settlement that covers your medical bills, property damage, and any other related expenses. If the insurance company is unwilling to cooperate or proposes a low settlement, our team is ready to take the case to court.

Car Accident Caused by a Teen Driver

How Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. Can Help?

Legal cases involving teen drivers can be complex. At Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C., we specialize in handling these specific situations, ensuring accident victims receive proper guidance and fair compensation. Here’s how we can help with your teen driver accident case:

  • Liability and damages assessment. We evaluate whether the teen driver was negligent and breached their duty of care, determining the extent of economic and non-economic damages to ensure you receive fair compensation.
  • Investigation and evidence gathering. Our experienced team collects crucial evidence, such as photos, witness statements, and medical records, supporting your case’s credibility and proving liability and injury severity.
  • Expert witnesses. We maintain a network of qualified experts to provide professional testimony on driving standards, accident reconstruction, or injury assessment, strengthening your case. Our partner attorney and registered nurse, Eileen Kroll, offers a comprehensive assessment of injuries, linking them to the accident and securing a fair settlement for present and future losses.
  • Negotiation skills. Our skilled attorneys negotiate with responsible parties, whether the teen driver’s insurance company or their legal representatives, ensuring you receive a fair settlement for injuries and losses.
  • Litigation experience. If negotiations fail, our experienced team is prepared for litigation, skilled at filing motions, presenting evidence, and advocating for your rights in court.

Choose Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. For Teen Driver Accident Claims

When your well-being and recovery are on the line, you deserve a dedicated team fighting for your rights. Our legal professionals are experienced in handling cases involving teen driver accidents, and we are committed to ensuring you receive the financial compensation you are owed.

Contact us for a free consultation to get the experience and support you need to secure the compensation you deserve for your teen driver accident claim.

Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at  1-866-MICH-LAW  and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Iain Bowie is an experienced copywriter who crafts easy-to-understand legal articles, so readers can get the assistance they need.

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