teen accident

Data from the New York State Department of Health shows that around 10 people are killed or have to visit a hospital for their injuries after being involved in car accidents caused by teen drivers. The risk of auto accidents is highest in the 16-to-19 year age group as compared to all other ages.

The causes of teen auto accidents are many and diverse, but most of them stem from behaviors that are typical for that age. Data from New York City teen car accidents show that teen drivers often resort to speeding and driving without paying sufficient attention to the road. They have a tendency to follow other vehicles too closely and not yield to other drivers and generally tend to drive in an unsafe manner.

The law requires all occupants of motor vehicles to wear restraints when a junior licensed driver is driving the car. However, teenagers may not always follow this rule and this can lead to serious injuries or even death in the event of an automobile accident in New York.

What Makes Teenagers Prone to Accidents?

Teenagers often do not have the necessary years of experience behind the wheel and this puts them at a disadvantage when compared to older drivers with greater experience. Teens are more likely to be distracted by conversations or texting or checking social media feeds when driving. They are less likely to pay close attention to the risks of driving a particular way; they are also more likely to speed for a thrill, often disregarding poor road and weather conditions.

The lack of experience means they are unable to make a correct estimate of the time for a particular driving maneuver. No wonder then that statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a higher accident rate for teen car drivers. All these factors are the reason why the New York State Graduated Driver Licensing Law specifies that junior licensed drivers and permit holders cannot drive at night without adult supervision.

How to Establish Negligence by a Teenager Driver?

If you have been seriously injured in an accident caused by a teenage driver, you can file a compensation claim with their insurance company. In such a situation, it is important to establish the teenage driver’s negligence. A skilled teen auto accident attorney may also be able to help you recover damages from parents who have vicarious liability for their teenager’s negligence.

Establishing negligence by the teenage driver will require that you show that the teen driver breached the duty of care they owed to you, causing you to be harmed in the process. Speeding, weaving through traffic, texting while driving, tailgating and lack of an appropriate reaction to match the traffic conditions are all actions that can be classed under ‘breach of the duty of care’.

Not all teen drivers may be insured and quite a few of them may be listed on the insurance policy of their parents. Even if teen drivers cannot satisfy the judgment, your attorney can often find a way to hold the teen driver’s parents vicariously liable for their child’s negligence.

If you succeed in establishing such liability, you may be able to recover compensation for the economic and other losses you suffered such as hospital and medical bills, rehabilitation therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of earning capacity, and enjoyment and loss of consortium.

Teen Driver Licensing Requirements

The Graduated License Law implemented by New York State in 2003 has been drafted to ensure restrictions on teenage drivers to cut down the risk of accidents caused by them. Under this law, teen drivers must successfully complete the stages of Junior Learner Permit, Junior Driver License, and Senior Driver License to finally receive a full license to drive in New York. Despite a well-intentioned law, the statistics over the years show that teen car accidents continue to be a major concern until today.

Teen Car Drivers: What the Rules Say

Here are the highlights of what the rules say about teenage car drivers:

  • Only a teenager who has completed at least 50 hours on the road is eligible to take the road test portion of the car driver’s exam.
  • A teenager aged between 16 and 18 has to wait for a minimum of six months after earning a Learner’s Permit before they are eligible to take the road test.
  • The Junior License awarded after passing the road test carries several specific restrictions regarding driving with and without supervision. Teens with such a license can drive between 5 am and 9 pm without a supervising driver. They can drive between 9 pm and 5 am only if they are being supervised by a parent or a guardian or person in loco parentis. The supervising driver must be older than 21 years of age and must possess a valid driving license. No other passengers than the supervising driver are allowed in such a car being driven by a teenage driver.
  • Teens with Junior License may be allowed to drive without supervision between 9 pm and 5 am only on a direct route from home to work or a school course.
  • Junior license holders can drive with only one passenger under the age of 21, with exceptions for the teen’s immediate family members.
  • Once a teenager turns 18, they are eligible for a Senior License that removes these restrictions from their driving.

Insurance and Parental Liability for Teenage Car Drivers

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Parents can choose to buy their teenager a new individual insurance policy or to add their teenager to the parents’ existing policy. Under New York State insurance guidelines, adding a teenager to the parents’ insurance policy leads to a premium increase of around 176%.

Because several insurance providers offer incentives such as discounts on defensive driving courses, or a good student discount, it may be less expensive for parents to add teenagers to their existing policy than to buy a new policy for the teenager. This is the reason why most teenage drivers are generally covered under the insurance policies of their parents or legal guardians.

Under New York law, liability will be determined in an auto accident injury. Every person who owns a vehicle is liable for any personal or property injuries that result due to the negligence of a person who has been operating the vehicle with the owner’s permission. In other words, the parent who has lent their car to the teenage daughter or son can be held liable for any accident caused by them when driving that car.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a vehicle driven by a teen driver, you can therefore pursue a compensation claim from the insurance provider of the driver’s parent. This same logic is applicable in accidents where a teen has been driving a vehicle entrusted to them knowingly by a family member, a neighbor, or any other friend or acquaintance.

Exceptions to Parental Liability for Teen Car Accidents in New York

There are, however, exceptions to the law regarding parental liability. If a teen who is 16 years of age or older owns and registers a motor vehicle in their own name, they will be considered at-fault for any accident caused by them. In such cases, when there is no involvement of an adult owner, there is no question of parental liability.

Secondly, in the event that a teenager takes somebody’s car without their permission, and there was no negligence from the vehicle in granting accessibility, the owner cannot be held responsible for any damage or injury caused by the teenager.

Teen Driving Accidents and Third Party Liability

In some accidents, there may be a third party who is also responsible for the teen driver accident. This mostly occurs when the accident involves underage drivers driving under the influence of alcohol. Under New York law, the parties who sold the alcohol or assisted the underage driver in procuring the alcohol can also be liable for damages caused by the intoxicated teen driver.

Contact a Competent New York Auto Accident Lawyer Today

Being involved in a car accident can be a harrowing experience. Besides the anxiety of your physical injuries, you are likely to experience pain and suffering, and may also worry about arranging the finances to meet your medical expenses.  In more serious accidents, there is also the added stress of a probable loss of income and a diminished quality of life.

Making sure you hire the most competent and qualified teen auto accident lawyer in New York can help you rest assured about getting the compensation that you rightfully deserve.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a teen driver, contact Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 212-344-1000 to schedule a free consultation. Our team of lawyers has decades of experience dealing with different types of car accidents in New York that involve a teen driver.

Right from investigating the scene of the accident and filing the necessary paperwork to determining the liability of all parties, our attorneys will help you build a case in a way that ensures you get your rightful dues for all the damages you suffered in the accident.


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