You may be injured from a teenage car accident in Atlanta or a parent whose child caused one. In this guide, we explore three different scenarios involving adolescent drivers and explain the legal implications for each:
- You were injured in an accident caused by a teenager
- You are a parent of a teen who caused an accident
- Your teenager was unfairly accused of causing an accident
A Teenage Driver Hit Me; how do I Seek Compensation?
From the moment a teenager obtains their driver’s license, they are bound by the same traffic rules and regulations as adult drivers. As such, if a minor engages in negligent driving and causes an auto accident, they will be liable for paying damages to the victim. Examples of dangerous, negligent driving include:
- Distracted driving
- Failing to wear a seatbelt
- Reckless driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
In a compensation claim, injured parties must provide evidence that proves the teen driver’s actions behind the wheel were negligent and caused the accident. Children are often included on their parent’s insurance policy, which means their insurer will cover your losses. Depending on your situation, other options for pursuing compensation could include:
- Holding the parent directly responsible if they knew their child had a tendency for negligent driving
- Claims where Georgia’s “family purpose” doctrine applies
You Have Limited Time to Take Action
If you (or your lawyer) can prove negligence on the part of the teen driver, you could recover compensation for losses such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
However, keep in mind there is limited time to file your claim under Atlanta’s statute of limitations. Per O.C.G.A § 9-3-33, injured parties generally have two years to begin legal action in a personal injury civil lawsuit.
This may seem like a long time, but there is plenty of work to do. Evidence can quickly disappear, and witnesses’ memories of the accident will fade. To have a strong case, it is best to begin building it immediately after the accident. If you miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, your case will be dismissed. You don’t want to risk losing out on compensation you are entitled to.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-214-2001
My Teen Caused an Accident; am I Automatically Liable As a Parent?
Being minors, teens are generally not financially independent. As such, they will be included in your auto insurance policy. Therefore, auto accident claims brought against your teen will be paid from that coverage.
However, in certain situations, you could be held liable for the accident as a parent or legal guardian, here’s why:
Atlanta’s Family Purpose Doctrine and Vicarious Liability
Generally, a parent is not automatically liable if their teen causes an auto accident. However, Georgia’s “family purpose” doctrine means parents could be held legally and financially responsible for their child’s actions in certain situations.
The basic theory is that a car owner may be liable for damages if they entrust their vehicle to another driver while knowing that driver lacks the maturity or ability to drive safely. To impose vicarious liability on the vehicle owner, an injured party will need to prove the following factors:
- The parent must own the vehicle
- The parent must have made the car available for family use
- The driver must be a member of the immediate household
- The parent must have provided permission for their child to use the vehicle
- The parent allowed their child to use the car while knowing they lacked the skill to operate it safely
- The parent allowed their teen to drive despite them having a tendency for reckless behavior behind the wheel
Discussing the situation with an auto accident attorney can help you determine where you stand legally if you find yourself exposed to a lawsuit.
Keeping Your Teenager Responsible Behind the Wheel
To protect your child and nurture responsible driving practice, set a good example for your teen by following safe driving standards yourself. Remind them always to use a seatbelt and discuss the consequences of speeding, distracted driving, and alcohol use.
Letting your child know you are always available to arrange a safe ride home for them if they need it can also help prevent serious accidents.
My Teen Was Injured in a Car Accident and Is Being Unfairly Blamed for Causing it
Insurance companies may seek to use your teen’s age and inexperience against them in the event of an accident. If you believe your child is being unfairly blamed for causing a car accident, you may be able to dispute fault depending on the circumstances.
An injury attorney can help you investigate the cause of the accident and help you prove another driver was wholly or partially to blame.
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Kaine Law Can Help You with the Challenges of a Teenage Car Accident in Fulton County
Coping with the aftermath of an auto accident is a stressful and traumatic experience for everyone involved. Accidents involving young drivers can be particularly challenging from a legal standpoint. If you were injured as a teen or in an accident involving a young driver, the team at Kaine Law can help you build a compensation case.
We take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay nothing up front and out of pocket. If we secure a financial award on your behalf, we take a portion of it for attorney fees. If we do not successfully obtain a settlement or court award for you, you pay us nothing. There are no risks in this arrangement.
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