Can You Sue a Minor Who Caused a Car Accident?

Car Accident Caused by MinorIn Pittsburgh, we are seeing an increased number of teen drivers on our roads. While we love the young members of our community, we have some concerns given their lack of experience. And if one of them causes a crash and you get hurt, you can make a claim against their insurance to recoup your losses. But in some car accident cases, victims actually have to sue the driver, too – and that can get complicated when the driver is underage.

Why we’re concerned about minor drivers, specifically

As per the Pennsylvania DMV, the population of teen drivers in Pennsylvania reached a decades-long high in 2023, with 103,000 licensed drivers aged 16-17. This surge is accompanied by the detrimental impact of personal stress and digital distractions on young drivers, reflecting in their erratic behaviors on the road. According to Pew Research 34% of teen drivers say they have texted while driving and an additional 52% admit to using their cell phones for other functions while driving.

According to PennDOT’s latest data, distracted driving was cited in 11,484 car crashes in 2022. Young drivers, the data showed, were “overrepresented” in single-vehicle crashes, rear-end, head-on, and fixed object crashes – the types of collisions most commonly associated with distracted driving.

Can you sue a teen driver in Pittsburgh?

The short answer is yes, but factors such as the type of license held by the minor and the extent of insurance coverage available can significantly influence legal options when seeking compensation for your injuries caused by the accident.

Insurance considerations

In cases involving a lawsuit against a teen driver, insurance plays an integral role in determining the extent of coverage and potential liabilities. Here are some key considerations:

  • Parental liability: Parents or legal guardians may be held financially responsible for their child’s actions on the road. This means that their insurance policy may extend coverage to include damages caused by the minor, up to the policy limits. Holding parents accountable ensures that victims can seek adequate compensation for the damages incurred.
  • Policy restrictions: Insurance policies often contain provisions or exclusions specific to accidents involving teen drivers. For instance, some policies may impose higher premiums or deductibles for teen drivers due to their perceived higher risk.

Additionally, policies may exclude coverage for certain types of accidents, such as those involving underage drinking or unauthorized use of the vehicle. Understanding these policy restrictions is essential for assessing the available coverage and potential limitations in pursuing legal action against the teen driver.

License type considerations

The type of driver’s license held by the minor driver involved in the accident can also influence the legal options and shared liabilities between the minor and their parent or supervising adult.

  • Learner’s permit: If the minor driver holds a learner’s permit, they are typically subject to certain restrictions, such as needing supervision from a licensed adult driver. In the event of an accident, the supervising adult driver may share liability, depending on the circumstances. However, the primary responsibility often falls on the minor driver.
  • Provisional license: Minors with a provisional or intermediate driver’s license may have additional restrictions, such as limits on nighttime driving or the number of passengers allowed. Violating these restrictions can impact liability in case of an accident. Additionally, the level of supervision required may vary depending on state laws.
  • Full driver’s license: Once a minor obtains a full driver’s license, they are typically held to the same standards of responsibility as adult drivers. In the event of an accident, the minor driver is generally responsible for their actions and any resulting damages.

Understanding “negligence” in a Pittsburgh car accident case

In Pittsburgh car accidents involving minors, negligence laws are a core consideration. All drivers, including minors, owe a duty of care to all other road users, meaning that they follow traffic laws and avoid risky behavior. If minors breach this duty of care by speeding, texting, or ignoring signals—they may be considered negligent. Proving negligence requires showing the breach caused damages like injuries or property damage. As Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state, fault can be shared between multiple parties in an accident, which may reduce compensation based on fault percentages.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit against a negligent teen driver?

The statute of limitations imposes a ticking clock for filing a lawsuit after an accident occurs. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is two years. Missing this deadline can result in forfeiting your legal rights to seek compensation. Act promptly to avoid losing your chance at justice.

If your accident was caused by a negligent teen in Pittsburgh, you should promptly seek compensation for damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term care expenses for your injuries.

To ensure your rights are protected and maximize your chances of recovery, consult with the experienced personal injury attorneys at Carmody and Ging Injury and Accident Lawyers. With years of experience handling accidents involving minors, we can assess your case, gather evidence, and pursue legal action against the responsible party. Call or contact Carmody and Ging Injury and Accident Lawyers today.