John Maher talks with Rob Mazow and Robert Hartigan from the personal injury law firm Mazow McCullough about teen driving accidents. They look at the liability of teen drivers, talk about restrictions on teen drivers, and cover when parents may be liable for their teenager’s accidents.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher and I’m here today with Rob Mazow and Robert Hartigan of the law firm Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today, we’re going to be talking about teen driving accidents. Rob and Robert, welcome.
Rob Mazow: Thanks, John.
Robert Hartigan: Hey John, how are you?
Differences Between Teen and Adult Driving Accidents
John: Good. If a teen is involved in a driving accident, is the case handled in the same way as an adult driver? Or is it a little different?
Rob: Like anything, it depends on how old the teen is. If it’s a 13 year old or somebody who doesn’t have his driver’s license or her driver’s license, then yes, it’s going to be handled differently. There’s going to be insurance issues. There’s going to be criminal issues. It’s going to be all sorts of things.
But if we’re talking about a teenager who has had their license and is somebody who is driving without any other substances or there’s no criminal issues involved, then it’s generally going to be handled the same way. Clearly a teen isn’t going to have the same kind of driving experience than an adult who’s had a license for quite a lot longer. But for the most part, if we can establish that the teen was negligent, didn’t drive with due care, then it’s handled just like any other negligence case. If they’ve caused damages and caused injury to our client, then we’re going to seek compensation through the insurance company of the vehicle of the car that the teen was driving.
Accidents With Junior Operator Licenses
John: Are there any aspects of insurance requirements that might be different with a teen driver who is maybe on their junior operator license?
Rob: Well, I have three children who’ve all had their junior operator license and the moment that they got the license, I put them on my car insurance. They need to be put on the household policy and they need to be put on the driver’s insurance. And as again, speaking from experience, if you have the ability to increase your insurance limits, you should do so because statistically, because the teenagers have less experience driving, they might get involved in a car accident. It might be their fault. You’re going to want to make sure you’ve got insurance in the first part, but also enough insurance to cover just in case they cause some problems.
Restrictions on Teen Drivers
John: Anything else in terms of a junior operator license and the restrictions that a driver has if they’re involved in an accident? Maybe they were doing something that they weren’t supposed to be doing, like driving after midnight or driving with friends in their car or things like that.
Rob: There’s a reason in Massachusetts why they have these kinds of restrictions where it didn’t have the same requirements when we were younger. It’s because there’s a belief, and it’s probably true that a young driver is going to be more distracted than somebody with more experience. And that’s why for a period of time, they can’t have anybody but their parents in the car with them or their siblings. And after that, they can’t have more than a certain amount of kids in the car.
And the reason for that is because they get distracted. It’s not going to affect insurance coverage per se, but it’s certainly going to be a problem with the courts if somebody’s driving on their JOL on their junior operators license and they have somebody who’s not their sibling in the car and they cause an accident. Well, whether or not they’re negligent is one thing, but they’re going to end up in the court system on a criminal matter because of the violation of the JOL and that’s going to cause a problem for their future insurance coverage and their future insurance premiums are going to go up.
Passengers Injured in Teen Driving Accidents
John: What if my teenager was involved in a car accident, but they weren’t the ones who were at fault? Are there any issues there? Or anything different with the way that a case is handled?
Rob: Do you mean that if they’re injured if they’re a passenger in a vehicle?
John: Yeah. Let’s say that they were driving, but they weren’t at fault, but that yeah, they were injured in an accident.
Rob: Well, just like if they were an adult and if they came to see us and they had medical issues, we would be able to get them the same kind of compensation that we would be able to get an adult. We’d be able to get them compensation for their medical bills and their medical treatment, we’d be able to get them compensation for the pain and suffering of going through the accident.
If they have a job and they lose wages, we’d be able to get them compensated for their lost wages. If it’s been something much more serious where they’ve lost a limb or God forbid a loss of life, we’d be able to get compensation for their next of kin for the pain and suffering and the loss of that child.
Parental Liability for Teen Drivers
John: Robert, any final thoughts on accidents that are involving teenage drivers?
Robert: Sometimes we get cases where it was a teenage driver that caused the accident and there’s a claim against the teenage driver and their parents or a parent. That can present a number of issues for the parent or parents of the driver in situations like that.
John: Where the person might be coming after, not just the driver, but because you’re the parents, maybe you let that kid drive or something like that and so they’re coming after you as well.
Robert: Exactly. For example, if the teenage driver had a history of violations, accidents, maybe they had some medical issues, there still could be a claim against the parents for negligently allowing the teenage driver to operate the vehicle.
Contact Legal Help After an Accident With a Teen Driver
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information. Rob and Robert, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Rob: Thanks, John.
Robert: Thank you.
John: And for more information, you can visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call (855) 693-9084.