Teen Drivers and Auto Accidents Lawyer
in St. Pete & Pinellas Park, FL
Attorney for Accidents with Teens in Pinellas Park
Unlike many other states, Florida does not differentiate between teen drivers and adult drivers for personal injury claims and other accident related insurance claims. If you are involved in an accident with a teenage driver or your teen has been involved in an accident, it is important to consult a personal injury attorney for assistance.
I was involved in an accident with a teen driver
If you were involved in an accident with a teenage driver, there are three potential sources of recovery: your insurance, the driver’s insurance, and the parents of the driver/their insurance. Your recovery will depend on how the teen is covered – or not – and the policy limits to each.
- Your personal injury protection insurance may be a source of recovery after an auto accident to cover a percentage of medical expenses and lost wages
- Your uninsured motorist coverage and any umbrella policies can be an additional resource if your damages rise above the limits of PIP insurance
The teen driver’s insurance and teen driver’s parents (or vehicle owner’s) insurance
- There are two options for insurance coverage in Florida for teenage drivers. They can have their own insurance policy or their parents can add them to their policy as a driver. Sometimes neither of these options is chosen and the teen is not a covered driver on any policy, but the vehicle they are driving is insured. This is why managing the claims process requires the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney who can locate all potential policies available and negotiate compensation on your behalf. In some cases, the teen’s parents can be held liable for a portion of their child’s share of damages.
Teen drivers are the causes of accidents for a few common reasons. Their inexperience alone makes this group less likely to adjust for road conditions or use defensive driving methods. Teens are also prone to risky driving decisions such as reckless driving, speeding, being inattentive and using phones while driving. Some teens cause accidents when they drive under the influence of alcohol or substances, including prescriptions.
Because of Florida’s rules on comparative fault, even if the teen driver was not ticketed or assigned fault at the accident scene, you may still be able to recover damages against them.
If you were involved in an accident with a teenage driver, don’t try to go through the claims process alone! Consult with the attorneys at Oldham & Delcamp to discuss your options.
My teen driver was involved in an accident
If your teenager has been involved in a car accident, you probably have an overwhelming amount of tasks to manage right now. Auto accidents involving teenage drivers are especially tricky to manage and even if you have previously handled your own car accident claims, it is important to consult with a personal injury attorney regarding your child for a few main reasons. Read about in our blog: Getting Teenagers back in the car after an accident
As you are aware, an underage driver may have their own insurance policy, be listed on a parent’s policy, or be driving a vehicle that is covered but they are not. When it comes to your child or the other driver seeking compensation for injuries and damages, this has an impact.
- If your child has their own insurance policy, it will be the main source of recovery for both your child and the other driver.
- If your child is listed on your auto policy, this policy and any additional coverages will be the main source of recovery.
- If your child is driving a vehicle they are not covered under, this policy and any additional coverages will be a source of recovery.
You should take a neutral view towards the determination of fault in your child’s car accident. Whether or not the other driver was assigned fault by police or ticketed at the scene, they may still seek personal injury damages from your child under Florida’s comparative fault rules. These require that damages be assessed based on a percentage of fault.
If for example, a jury determined your child was 40% at fault for the accident and the other driver 60%, the other driver could recover 40% of their damages from your child. The good news is, these rules work both ways. In the above example, your child could recover 60% of their damages from the other driver.
Insurance companies are very familiar with how this works and it becomes part of the negotiation process when we seek to settle the claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can handle this part of the process and will know how to present the evidence to the insurance company showing your child in the best light that will help obtain maximum recovery.
Future Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
One of the most important reasons to seek counsel after your teen has been in a car accident is the rising cost of medical expenses. Most parents will have their child receive an initial examination and seek some follow-up care, but in many cases begin having issues with the insurance company paying medical providers after the first few visits and cease treatment.
Continuing treatment for your child serves two purposes, first it ensures they have the best chance at recovery and second, it enables your attorney to determine the true cost of future medical expenses for your child’s ongoing care. Because of teen drivers youth, the cost of ongoing care even for what may appear to be minor injuries, can be staggering when viewed as how much it would cost them over their remaining lifetime. The other driver is liable for their share of the costs in causing your child an injury. Ensuring your child receives all follow-up care recommended by medical providers helps us prove the true cost of their injuries.
A second issue many parents do not consider when their teenager or young adult is involved in a car accident is their lost wages and future earning potential. Your child’s inability to continue working part-time may not be a significant loss, but in some cases where injuries worsen it is not uncommon for teenagers to delay starting college, internships, or trade programs and risk losing scholarships or anticipated pay in order to be treated for their injuries. The value of these losses become a factor in seeking adequate compensation and are one of many reasons why you need an experienced personal injury attorney to handle the insurance claim.
Your Potential Liability
Many parents first thought after finding out their child is okay following a car accident is whether or not they are liable. The answer is: maybe.
There are two ways that the other driver could try to hold you liable as the parent of the underage driver.
The Parental Consent Form
You may or may not recall signing this form when your child got their learner’s permit. It certified the child would complete a certain number of hours of driving experience before applying for a Class E license. In conjunction with this, Florida Statute 322.09 provides that “Any negligence or willful misconduct of a minor under the age of 18 years when driving a motor vehicle on the highway shall be imputed to the person who signed the application of such minor for a permit or license, which person shall be jointly and severally liable with such minor for any damages caused by negligence or willful misconduct.”
This means you, along with your child, are liable for their negligence or misconduct while driving that causes an accident.
Vicarious Liability & Dangerous Instrumentality
You probably realized a car was a dangerous instrument when you entrusted it to your child, but you may not have known that Florida has specific provisions for assigning liability when you do so. Under Florida law, motor vehicles are considered “inherently dangerous” and owners can be held responsible for the manner in which they are used. This form of liability does not require the driver be a child, instead it could be your young adult child who borrow the car when they are home from college or even another family member or friend.
Limiting your liability and helping your child recover
There are steps you can take to limit your liability under these provisions and an experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process.
The attorneys of Oldham & Delcamp have the experience necessary to handle your personal injury claim after your teenager has been involved in an accident. While you focus on helping your child recover, we will do the work of gathering records related to the claim such as medical and insurance policies, investigate the accident, and negotiate with the insurance company. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, we are prepared to go to trial and present the case to a jury.
About Oldham & Delcamp
We understand the physical, financial, and emotional toll a car accident places on your life. Our legal team treats all clients with the respect and compassion they deserve. We stay in communication with you throughout the process so you are never wondering about the status of your case.
When another driver chooses to text and drive, drink and drive or runs a red light, their impact on your life is disastrous. No one should pay out-of-pocket for medical expenses resulting from an accident that was no fault of your own.
Sadly, many auto accidents result in a fatality. If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, you may be entitled to a wrongful death claim. While it doesn’t replace your loved one, it may protect your family’s financial future.
Call the office of Oldham and Delcamp Trial Attorneys today at 727-201-5458 to schedule a free consultation or visit us online. Oldham and Delcamp serve Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Citrus, Hernando Lake, and Marion Counties.
Don’t delay—the sooner we review your case, the sooner we can decide upon the best course of action for you. Time is of the essence due to the Florida statute of limitation for filing your case. Fight for the justice you deserve by contacting us as soon as possible. We can help as your slip and fall lawyer, DUI law and auto accident attorney as well as rear-end accidents attorney, trucking accidents attorney and premises liability lawyer. We can also help as your wrongful death attorney, assault and battery lawyer, and criminal theft attorney.