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Teen Driving Accidents

It’s alarming to consider, but half of all teen drivers will be involved in a car accident before they graduate from high school. Some of those accidents will be minor fender benders, but many collisions will cause serious or fatal injuries.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, you may be facing devastating consequences. Contact our experienced automobile accident lawyers at Belt & Bruner, P.C. at 205-933-1500 to walk you through the personal injury claims process.

Why Are Teens Such Distracted Drivers?

In 2014, 90 teen drivers in Alabama were involved in fatal crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Numerous factors contribute to teen crashes, including inexperience, alcohol consumption, speeding and electronic distractions. Many teens feel the need to remain engaged online even while behind the wheel for fear of missing out on something and put themselves and others in danger as a result. A fourth of teens reply to text messages at least once each time they drive.

Parents who phone or text, while their teen is behind the wheel, may add to the teen’s distraction. A teenager involved in a car accident may hurt himself or herself, injure friends and fellow passengers as well as harm other motorists on the road.

If you or a loved one was hurt by a teenage driver, you should consult with an Alabama car accident lawyer to learn more about your rights. Teen drivers and their insurance companies can be held accountable when their disregard for safety causes a car accident. They can be made to pay damages to those they have hurt.

Teen Drivers and Distracted Driving

Some teen drivers put as much focus on keeping up with their friends’ latest online activity as they do keeping a lookout for traffic hazards and oncoming motorists. The teens’ fear of missing out (FOMO) is putting them and others at serious risk.

According to Distraction.gov, 10 percent of drivers under the age of 20 who were in fatal car accidents were said to be distracted at the time when the auto accident occurred. Teens can become distracted by lots of different things, from the radio to passengers.

Nearly 90 percent of the 1,621 high school junior and seniors surveyed said they used the phone while behind the wheel, according to a new study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions, a non-profit. More than a third reported sending text messages to make plans and coordinate social activities.

While social media apps present a serious distraction, teens are often distracted by parents who text them while they are on the road. More than half of teen drivers surveyed said they felt compelled to respond immediately to their parents’ texts and emails, according to the study.

Parents should resist the urge to communicate with their teens when they know the teen is driving and instead put technology to work to prevent distracted driving accidents. There are a number of apps that can disable your teen’s phone while they are driving.

  • AT&T Drive Mode – The app silences incoming text messages and sends an auto reply indicating that the recipient is driving. Parents can get a text message if the app is turned off.
  • SafeCell – This app helps your teen keep their eyes on the road. It intercepts calls and texts and automatically responds to let the sender know that the teen is driving and can’t be reached.

Other Causes of Teen Driving Accidents

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers in the 15-19 demographic age group account for 70 percent more insurance claims for crashes than drivers in any other five-year demographic range.

Why are teens such high-risk drivers?

Possible reasons include:

  • Inexperienced driving – Teens may not know how to drive assertively or respond in situations such as bad weather or coming upon an accident.
  • Drowsy driving – Nearly 60 percent of teens said they had nodded off or nearly fallen asleep behind the wheel, according to the study by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions. More than half admitted to getting six hours or less sleep per night because they were staying up late online. One AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study revealed that teenagers were less likely to stop their car, pull over or rest if they found themselves falling asleep as they drove.
  • Drinking and driving – Mothers Against Drunk Driving indicates that around one-third of teen car accident deaths are related to alcohol in some way. MADD also indicates that teenage alcohol use results in around 6,000 deaths annually.
  • Speeding – According to Allstate Insurance Teen Driver Facts and Statistics, 17 percent of teens described speeding as “fun,” and 55 percent said they had gone over the speed limit by 10 miles per hour or more. When a teen speeds, the teen is more likely to lose control of the car and less likely to be able to stop to avoid an accident.

These are just a few of the common causes of auto accidents that can be attributed to the behavior of a teen driver. Unfortunately, only around 54 percent of teens responding to a Centers for Disease Control survey said they always wore their seat belts when they drove. No other group of drivers had a percentage this low. When a teen driver or other teens in the car are not wearing their seatbelt, the risk of injury significantly increases.

Holding Teen Drivers Responsible

If you were hurt by a teen driver, whether you were in the car with the teen or they were driving the other car, you have the right to take legal action and obtain compensation. Some people, and especially friends in the car with a teen, may be reluctant to file a lawsuit because of the friendship and because the driver is young. However, those concerns are largely unfounded.

Teenage drivers, like all other drivers, must be covered by insurance policies. The liability insurance policy exists to compensate those injured in an auto accident. Therefore, if a teenage driver hurts you, and you take legal action, you will be negotiating a settlement with the insurance company or your damages awarded in court will be paid by the insurance company (up to the policy limits).

This is why liability insurance exists – so those hurt in a car accident can obtain compensation from the person at fault even when that person has limited or no assets, as would be the case with most teenagers.

The insurance company of the teen driver who caused the crash should cover medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering damages and emotional distress damages. Ideally, a fair settlement (lump sum payment in exchange for liability release) will be arranged during negotiations. If not, then the case will go to court, and the jury will decide if the teen is responsible and assess how much should be paid in damages.

Help for Teen Car Accident Victims

When you or a loved one is involved in an accident with a teen driver, it is important to understand your legal rights. A car accident lawyer at Belt & Bruner, P.C. can help you to know when to make a claim and can represent you in all aspects of making your case and obtaining compensation. Our initial consultations are always free. To learn more about how we can help you, call our Montgomery car accident lawyers, Mobile car accident lawyers, Huntsville car accident lawyers, or Birmingham car accident lawyers today.