Seattle Teenage Driver Car Accident Lawyers
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 his/her parents’ insurance policy, and the details can get confusing. Contact the Seattle injury lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., at (888) 228-3860 to discuss your options in a free consultation.
Young drivers make up less than 15% of the driving population in Washington, but in 2017 they were involved in 29% of all fatal crashes, as noted by the Bellingham Herald.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 16- to 17-year-old drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in a crash than adults and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. 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 lose control of the vehicle. The sense of freedom or impatience can also encourage teen drivers to speed, and it is a dangerous situation more likely to cause injury.
- Distractions: This includes not only distractions from the latest smartphone, but distractions from passengers in the car. 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! In a high school parking lot, or when 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.
Alcohol impairment is another major problem for young adult drivers, especially those nearing the age of 21. Drunk driving is normally defined in Washington State as operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08%. However, when a teenager gets behind the wheel, he or she is not legally permitted to have alcohol in his or her system at all. As such, zero tolerance laws hold teen drivers criminally liable if there are traces of alcohol in their system. When the teen has a blood alcohol content of .02% or higher, he or she can be considered guilty of violating zero tolerance laws. Teens found to have been drinking and driving can have their license suspended and are likely to face criminal charges.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States.
An intermediate driver’s license is available to teens who have turned 16 years old and have held a permit for at least six months. The teen attempting to receive a license must provide a driver’s education completion certificate and signed confirmation of at least 50 hours of supervised driving time before being able to qualify for the driver’s test. Teen drivers with an intermediate license must abide by certain rules until they turn 18, at which time their license will become unrestricted. The limitations on an intermediate license include:
- The teen driver may drive unsupervised except from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., when the teen driver must be supervised by a parent, guardian, or licensed driver who is at least 25 years old.
- The teen driver is not allowed to use a cell phone or other electronic device when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
- During the first six months of holding an intermediate license, a teen is forbidden to carry any non-family-member passengers who are under 20 years of age. After the six-month period, the teen can transport up to three non-family member passengers who are younger than 20 years old.
- After holding an intermediate license for 12 months without any tickets or at-fault accidents, the curfew and passenger restrictions are lifted for the teen driver.
- The first traffic ticket or restriction violations will result in notification to the teen’s parents. On a second occurrence, the teen’s license will be suspended for a total of six months. A third occurrence will result in license suspension until the teen turns 18 years old.
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 inexperienced 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 at 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 volume can also keep teens from hear sirens of emergency vehicles and cause them to have reduced awareness of the traffic around them.
- Cell Phones and Texting- Teens are especially vulnerable to accidents when using a phone while driving. Teens should be advised that texting and cell phone 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 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 a teen undertakes any of these tasks behind the wheel, he is putting himself and other drivers at risk.
Just because it is a teen who is responsible for your accident does not mean you should avoid taking legal action. For years, the top car accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., have helped clients recover compensation to cover:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor’s visits
- Ongoing rehabilitation therapy
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Vehicle repairs
- Costs of other damaged property
- And more
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 Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., are patient, understanding, and ready to defend your interests in and out of the courtroom. For a free consultation, call (888) 228-3860 today.
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