Hit By A Teen Driver? We Can Handle Your Case.
While young drivers only make up a small amount of the driving population in Washington, recent data shows that they are involved in a significant number of fatal crashes. If you or a loved one has been in a car accident with a teenage driver who was at fault, you have the right to file a claim and pursue legal action. You’ll likely have to go through their parents’ insurance policy, and the details can get confusing. Contact the Seattle injury lawyers at Pendergast Law Personal Injury Lawyers, at 888-539-9211 to discuss your options in a free consultation.
Why Teens Are More At Risk For A Crash
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16- to 17-year-old drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in crashes than adults and six times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes. Inexperience has a lot to do with it. A study conducted in Connecticut found that “beginners” were at fault in 68% of crashes involving high schoolers, and most of them involved just one vehicle.
There are three “critical errors” that teenage drivers – especially beginners – tend to make:
- Lack of scanning: It’s easy to forget to look around the vehicle on all sides, especially when you don’t expect other drivers to take illegal or aggressive maneuvers. But constant scanning and defensive driving help teens avoid bad accidents.
- Speeding: This is partially due to inexperience as well. A high school student may not realize that different conditions demand lower speeds, and they therefore might lose control of the vehicle. The sense of freedom or impatience can also encourage teen drivers to speed, which can create dangerous situations that are more likely to cause injuries.
- Distractions: This includes not only distractions from the latest smartphones, but distractions from passengers in the car as well. Teens can also pay “too much” attention to a traffic condition or something else outside of the car, which then becomes a distraction.
Another danger that teen drivers face is the close proximity of other young drivers. When they’re in a high school parking lot or are exiting a school event or popular hangout spot, students are surrounded by other inexperienced drivers. The smallest mistake by one teen driver can lead to a chain-reaction accident. Regardless, teen drivers are statistically most likely to be in three types of collisions:
- Left-turn accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Off-road single-vehicle accidents
However, these reasons, understandable as they are, are not defenses. Teen drivers must be held responsible for their mistakes and learn the value of their choices. This is a learning experience, but it’s also a chance for the victims to recover fair compensation for their injuries.
When Alcohol Is Involved
Alcohol impairment is another major problem for young adult drivers, especially those nearing the age of 21. Zero tolerance laws in Washington prohibit teenagers and those under 21 from driving with a single trace of alcohol in their systems. If the underage driver is found to have a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .02% or higher in violation of such laws, they may face a license suspension and/or even criminal charges.
Strict Rules For Teen Drivers Under 18 In Washington State
Teenage drivers over the age of 16 who have held a permit for six months are eligible to obtain an intermediate driver’s license. This license comes with rules and restrictions until the driver turns 18 years old. Some of these limitations include:
- Cellphone use: Teen drivers may not use a cellphone at any point when driving.
- Nighttime driving: Unsupervised driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. is prohibited.
- Passengers: Teen drivers must adhere to restrictions on transporting nonfamily members.
If the teen driver receives a traffic ticket or violation of any driving restriction, the first offense will result in a notification to their parents and a second offense will result in a license suspension.
Teen Drivers And Distractions
It is no secret that teens are more easily distracted than most drivers on the road. Some of the most common distractions that tend to influence teen drivers include:
- Passengers: Though more experienced drivers can handle conversations with other passengers in the car, inexperienced teen drivers are more inclined to become distracted by their passengers, especially if they have other teens in the car. This is the most common cause of distracted teen driving accidents.
- Radios and music players: Adjusting the radio to change the channel or adjust the volume may seem like a simple task, but teens may lose focus as they’re looking at the device instead of the road. Even music playing in the car can be a distraction – many distracted teen driving accidents are caused by teens dancing and singing to music in the car. Music played at high volumes can also keep teens from hearing sirens of emergency vehicles and can cause them to have reduced awareness of the traffic around them.
- Cellphones and texting: Teens are especially vulnerable to accidents when using a phone while driving. Teens should be advised that texting and cellphone use while driving is illegal in Washington state and is always highly dangerous.
- Activity outside the car: Activity outside the vehicle, like a construction site, an accident or a person on the side of the road, can cause distractions. Glancing away from the road for just a moment can have serious effects for new drivers, who may be more likely to overreact when their attention returns to the road.
- Eating, grooming and drinking: When teens undertake any of these tasks behind the wheel, they are putting themselves and other drivers at risk.
Call An Experienced Car Accident Attorney For Help
Just because it is a teen who is responsible for your accident does not mean that you should avoid taking legal action. For years, our top car accident attorneys at Pendergast Law have helped clients recover compensation to cover the following expenses and more:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor visits
- Ongoing rehabilitation therapy
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Vehicle repairs
- Costs of other damaged property
If you have questions concerning your legal rights to compensation after a wreck caused by a teen driver, contact us as soon as possible. The vehicle collision lawyers at Pendergast Law are patient, understanding and ready to defend your interests in and out of the courtroom. For a free consultation, call 888-539-9211 today.