Mar 5, 2020

Was Your Unlicensed Teen Driver Hurt in a Crash?

The fact that a teen driver is driving without a license is not cause to deny a personal injury claim. Liability for injuries will depend on who caused the crash and what insurance coverage is available. 

How Common Are Unlicensed Driver Crashes? 

Personal injury attorneys often receive calls regarding crashes with unlicensed drivers because almost 20% of fatal car crashes involve unlicensed or invalidly licensed drivers. In about 6.7% of those cases, the drivers’ licenses had been suspended or revoked. About 5% of drivers, however, were never licensed to begin with.
Since unlicensed teen drivers often lack the experience needed to react appropriately when encountered by road hazards or dangerous drivers, they are at a much higher risk of becoming injured, permanently disabled, or killed in a crash. 

Determining Liability in Accidents Involving Unlicensed Drivers

When unlicensed teen drivers are involved in crashes, recovering damages can be complicated whether the teen or the other driver is at fault. Fault is determined by the negligent actions of the drivers. While the teen may face criminal charges for driving without a license, not having a valid driver’s license does not automatically put the teen at fault.

If the unlicensed teen is determined to be at fault, and the car was insured, the insurance company may deny coverage. In a case like this, any other injured party may file a lawsuit against the teen and his or her parents. The teen’s own medical bills would likely be covered by health insurance or paid out of pocket, but this would depend on the way the car insurance policy is written.

If the unlicensed teen was not at fault for the crash, he or she has every right to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. While the insurance company will likely try to deny the claim or offer a lower settlement amount because the driver was insured, the fact that the teen had no license has no bearing on the settlement value. Unlicensed drivers have the same right to recover as anyone else who is injured because of the negligence of someone else.

Steps to Take if an Unlicensed Driver is Hurt in a Car Accident

After an accident, injured parties will usually get a call from their own insurance company and the other driver’s insurer. When teens are under 18, their parents will likely field these calls. The primary reason for these calls is to gather information about the injuries and collect a statement from the victim. The information the insurance companies collect is used to limit or deny a claim. While the insurance company will try to pretend that they are on the victim’s side, this simply isn’t so. Talking to a personal injury lawyer before making a statement can help ensure that victims’ rights are protected.

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