Seattle Teenage Driver Car Accident Lawyers
Parents do everything they can to make sure their children are safe, especially when their children become teenagers and learn how to drive. But sometimes, it is out of our hands. Collisions happen; and while many people assume the teenager is always to blame, that’s not true.
If your son or daughter was in an accident that wasn’t their fault, they (and you) have a right to file a claim against the person who was at fault. Contact the Seattle injury attorneys 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.
Alcohol impairment is another major problem for young adult drivers, especially those nearing the age of 21. 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
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, your student is surrounded by other inexperienced drivers. The smallest mistake by one teen driver can lead to a chain-reaction accident.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the United States.
In many automobile accidents, both drivers are at least partially responsible for the crash. If your child is under 18, he or she has an intermediate Washington State driver’s license. There are restrictions on nighttime driving, driving with passengers under 20 years of age, and your teen is not allowed to use a cell phone at all, even a hands-free device. If any of these laws were violated, or your child made a wrong move that contributed to the collision, Washington will apply a standard known as comparative negligence to your personal injury claim.
In these cases, the jury will award a percentage of money to the injury victim depending on how much of the accident was their fault. For example, if your son suffered injuries totaling $100,000, but a jury finds he was 10% responsible for the crash, he will receive 90% of the total compensation, or $90,000.
Just because your child was partially at fault for a crash doesn’t mean you shouldn’t file a claim. For years, our firm has helped Seattle families recover money owed to them for:
- Hospital bills
- Doctor’s visits
- Ongoing rehabilitation therapy
- Mental and emotional suffering
- Vehicle repairs
- Costs of other damaged property
- And more
You can see our case results here.
Licensed teen drivers in Washington must have their own auto insurance policies, and most parents add them to their existing policy. The safety rating of the vehicle, your student’s grades, and a clean driving record can help to keep costs down, but after a minor fender bender, that will change. Though teenagers are not to blame for every collision they’re in, insurance companies are quick to jack up the premiums after a crash, regardless of who’s at fault.
The Washington Department of Licensing may also penalize your child after an accident, whether your child was ticketed by law enforcement at the scene or not. Even if fault can’t be determined in a crash, it still counts as a first violation against your teen driver, and you will receive a warning letter. For the second violation, your child’s license will be suspended for six months; for the third, the license will be suspended until he or she turns 18. This may have an additional impact on your insurance.
At Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., we employ former insurance adjusters on our personal injury team. We know there are lots of factors in play when a teenager crashes a car, and we work with private investigators, law enforcement, medical professionals, and accident reconstructionists when it comes time to prove your claim.
If you have questions concerning your son or daughter’s legal rights to compensation after a wreck, contact us as soon as possible. The vehicle collision lawyers at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., are patient, understanding, and ready to defend your child’s interests in and out of the courtroom. For a free consultation, call (888) 228-3860 today.
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