Was your teen involved in a car crash? Worried about what to do? Can you be held liable?
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One of the worst phone calls a parent can get is from the police who tell you that your child was involved in an accident. The moment is intense as questions flood your mind. First and foremost, all you want to find out is if your baby is okay. Later, other questions may arise such as how to get justice for your injured teen or whether you, as the parent, can be held personally liable for the damages caused by your teen.
All too often, seriously injured teen drivers or family members who have lost a loved one in a crash involving teenage driving require specialized legal help in their time of need. Attorney Charles Scholle has helped families through the life-changing and tragic consequences of these motor vehicle crashes.
Should I contact an Atlanta car crash attorney near me?
Because teen car crashes can be so traumatic for the teen and their family, it’s very important to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney with the sensitivity and skill to not only handle your legal case, but also take into account any suffering a person experiences after a teen car crash.
In the event of a teen car crash, our Atlanta auto injury lawyers have the knowledge, skill and expertise to help families through the complicated medical and legal issues.
For over 20 years, Scholle Law has helped injured victims and their families manage the difficult recovery from an accident and injuries caused by others. We help families secure their legal rights and proper medical attention when they need support the most. We can guide you through the legal process step-by-step after a teen-related car crash.
Contact us to speak with a lawyer about your accident.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online
Teen car crash statistics
Car crashes involving teenagers in Georgia are following an alarming nationwide trend among young drivers. Teens are 3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash compared to other drivers and passengers. In fact, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death among American teens. Car crashes account for one-third of teen deaths, more than homicide, suicide and cancer.
Most crashes involving teens happen during their first year of driving. Teen crashes are also more likely to occur on Saturday and Sunday between 3 p.m. and midnight. Experts recommend that parents help teens avoid driving during these high-risk times.
Sadly, teens involved in car crashes are killed or injured at a higher rate because they are more likely to combine their inexperience with other dangerous behaviors. For instance, teens may be more likely to not wear their seat belt, drive too fast, drink and drive, drive distracted while using a cellphone or texting, or have other teens in their car which may be distracting.
Here are some other surprising and sobering statistics about teen driver car collisions:
- 3,255 teen drivers (age 15-19) were involved in fatal crashes in 2017.
- Dialing a phone number while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by 6 times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.
- Compared with other age groups, teens and young adults often have the lowest seat belt use rates. In 2017, only 58.8 percent of high school students always wore seat belts when riding as passengers. Among young drivers aged 15-20 who died in car crashes in 2017, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash (when restraint use was known).
- Teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash.
- Speeding was a factor in 32 percent of the fatal crashes that involved passenger vehicle teen drivers in 2016.
- In 2017, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers aged 16-19 was over 2 times higher than the death rate for female drivers of the same age.
- Teen drivers are 2.5 times more likely to engage in 1 or more potentially risky behaviors when driving with another teenage peer, compared to when driving alone.
- In 2017, 2,364 teens in the U.S. were killed, and about 300,000 were treated in emergency departments for serious injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes. About 6 teens died every day due to motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more were injured.
Common causes of teen driver car crashes
A combination of factors may be to blame when a teenager is involved in a collision with other vehicles or in a single-vehicle crash. Some of the most common causes of teen driver car accidents include:
- Distracted driving (texting and driving, passengers, etc.)
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Drowsy driving
- Speeding and aggressive driving
- Driver inexperience
Georgia’s teen driving laws & graduated licensing requirements
Georgia has enacted a number of laws to help lower the rate of teen car accidents. One such statute is Senate Bill 226, also known as “Joshua’s Law.” Joshua’s Law, which formally established the Georgia Driver Education Commission, mandates that teens become properly educated about driving if they want to drive at age 16.
If a teen fails to complete an approved driver education course, then they must wait until they turn 17 years old before they will be eligible for a driver’s license.
The Georgia Driver Education Committee also monitors teen driving by regulating safety rules for teen drivers. For example, during a teen’s second 6-month driving period, the new driver can only have 1 passenger (besides an adult). After 1 year, a teenage driver in Georgia can have no more than 3 other passengers.
How to prevent teen driver car crashes
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of your teen becoming another statistic is parental involvement. It’s vitally important that parents understand they hold the key to their teen’s driving safety. Having a strong foundation of trust between parents and teens is important. Trust can greatly help reduce risky behavior, which can lead to crashes. Some parents and their teens even enter into written agreements as a way to form a foundation for dialogue and commitment to safer driving.
In addition to making sure your teen is aware of the most common risks and dangers associated with teen driving, here are a few prevention strategies from Consumer Reports:
- Check the weather. Bad weather and poor visibility are added dangers for all drivers, but especially teen drivers who are less experienced in handling their vehicles in inclement conditions. Teach them how to adjust their driving to handle these obstacles, and consider limiting their driving when weather conditions are poor.
- Click it. Encourage teen drivers to buckle up and use their seat belts at all times. Not only has wearing seat belts been proven to save lives, but it’s also the law.
- Take it slow. Teens can be impatient and impulsive, which can cause them to speed. Young drivers should remember that the speed limit sign isn’t a suggestion, it’s the law.
- Limit their passengers. The greater the number of friends your teen has riding as passengers in their car, the greater their chances of getting into a fatal crash. Under Joshua’s Law, new teen drivers are only allowed to have a certain number of passengers. Consider expanding this restriction based on what works for your family.
- Limit nighttime driving. Data shows that a majority of teen accidents happen after dark. Graduated licensing programs limit nighttime driving for this reason. Support these laws by setting curfews for teen drivers and figure out ways to reduce or eliminate nighttime driving in their first couple of years.
- Establish rules. Create a set of rules with your teen that clearly outlines what is and isn’t allowed, and what the penalties are if these rules are broken.
- Never drink and drive. When young and inexperienced drivers get behind the wheel while drunk or drugged, the consequences can be devastating. Prepare teens to resist peer pressure and call for a ride if necessary.
- Put away the phone. Texting while driving and other phone-related distractions are a problem for all age groups, but especially for teens and young people. Make sure teen drivers understand that no text message is more important than their lives (or the lives of others).
For more information on how to teach teens about safe driving — including a sample parent/teen safe driving agreement — visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website and download the Parents Are the Key handbook.
Are parents liable for a teen car crash in Georgia?
Generally, in Georgia, parents aren’t considered to be at fault for crashes caused by their kids. In other words, the existence of a parent-teen relationship isn’t sufficient to hold a parent liable for damages caused by their child.
However, there are certain situations in which parents can be held financially responsible for car crashes caused by their teen child in Georgia. The legal theory of “negligent entrustment” can be applied if it can be proved that the parent furnished their teen with a car, even though they knew or should have known that their child wouldn’t operate a vehicle safely. Evidence such as past accidents or traffic citations may support this theory and hold the parent(s) responsible.
Another possible legal theory that can be used to hold a teen’s parents liable for financial damages is the “family purpose doctrine.” Under this doctrine, the parent or head of the household can be held liable when his or her child is given a vehicle for the purpose of the family’s convenience, pleasure or enjoyment.
As you can see, determining who is and isn’t liable in a car crash involving a teen driver can be complicated. If your teen was injured in a crash or caused a collision, we suggest seeking professional legal help immediately.