The National Safety Council reports that half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before they receive their high school diplomas. Whether the teen was impacted by another driver—or was the cause of an accident—that’s a surprisingly large number of young adults.
Under North Carolina law, if a teenager is hurt and suffers an injury in a motor vehicle collision, they have a legal right to compensation for all injury claims. However, if the victim of the accident is a younger teenager, under the age of 18, there are several legal complexities that need to be taken into account. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help guide you and your family through the compensation process. But there are a few important factors you should be aware of.
If your teen driver is hurt in a car accident
For young drivers under the age of 18, North Carolina law requires that there be a court hearing before a claim can be settled for the minor’s benefit.
Additionally, with cases involving drivers under the age of 18, the claims for medical bills and healthcare costs fall on the young driver’s parent(s)—and the minor is also entitled to separate compensation for pain and suffering. For this to progress, the court must approve a settlement before the settlement becomes final.
The compensation for the youth’s pain and suffering can be handled in a couple of ways:
- It can either be held by a Clerk of Court account, and later made available to the minor when they reach the age of 18.
- Or, a structured settlement can be made, with the funds paid over time (stipulated in a payment schedule arranged by the minor’s parents or a legal guardian).
If a teen driver causes a car accident and injures another driver
When teen drivers cause an accident, a separate set of complexities come into consideration. For example, some personal injury lawsuits or claims may impact only the minor behind the wheel, but certain suits may be brought against the teenager’s parents. And, in other instances, claims may be paid by the car insurance provider of the at-fault driver.
No matter the issue, two key factors must be addressed for an injured party to receive compensation from a teen driver:
- The victim must be able to show and prove that the teenage driver didn’t execute a “duty of care”, or didn't fulfill their responsibility to other drivers. (All drivers must operate their vehicles safely, avoiding foreseeable harm to others on the road.)
- The car accident victim must also be able to provide evidence proving that the teen driver breached duty of care with illegal or careless conduct (examples of this include: speeding, texting and distracted driving, or failing to adhere to road signs). Breaching the duty of care must be shown to have directly caused the accident, and the victim’s damages—including medical expenses or pain and suffering.
Don’t panic if your teen has had a driving incident
A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through the complexities involved in teen driver accidents. There are often steps that should be addressed, to ensure the insurance provider handles the maximum value of all of the injured party’s claims. Please give us a call at (888) 253-4071 today to learn more about how our team at Wilson Williams Law can help you and your teen.
Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.