In Florida, a teen can obtain a Learner’s License at the age of 15. This type of Florida Driver’s License allows a teen to drive while accompanied by a licensed adult driver. Once the teen drives for 1 year under a Learner’s License, a teen can then apply for and test for an unrestricted Florida Driver’s License at the age of 16. Once a teen gets a Florida Driver’s License, the teen driver, like any other driver on Florida roads, has a duty and responsibility to drive carefully and otherwise obey traffic rules and regulations. Unfortunately and predictably, there are many automobile accidents caused by the negligent actions of a teen driver. When there is an automobile accident caused by the negligence of a teen driver, here are the potential defendants / sources of recovery for damages / compensation to a child passenger or other driver injured in the automobile accident:
Teen Driver. A claim or case can be pursued against the teen driver. In the State of Florida, there is no immunity just because a person is under the age of 18 years of age. There is a special law in place that states that a child under the age of 6 years old cannot be held comparative negligent in an injury case. This special law does not apply to the typical automobile accident case.
Parent Who Signed the Learner’s Driver’s License. In addition to the teen driver, the parent or guardian of the teen driver may be held liable or responsible for the negligence of the teen driver assuming the driver was under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. Furthermore, only the parent or guardian who signs off on the Learner’s License and who signs the Parental Consent Form at the Florida Division of Driver’s License is liable pursuant to the Florida laws and statutes of point.
Owner of the Vehicle. The owner of the vehicle driven by the teen driver may also be liable or responsible for the damages / injuries sustained by the injured child. A 16 year old may own the vehicle. Then again, it may be owned by the parent or another person. Under Florida laws, the owner of the vehicle driven by the negligent driver is liable under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine.
Bodily Injury Insurance Carrier for the At Fault Driver or At Fault Owner. If the at fault driver and / or at fault owner carried Bodily Injury automobile insurance, there may be coverage for the injured child. A claim or case should be pursued seeking compensation of these benefits. While a lawsuit cannot be filed directly against the Bodily Injury insurance company, insurance proceeds should be paid out if there is a settlement or judgment on behalf of the injured child.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Carrier. There may be one or more policies of Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist benefits available to the injured child. Policies that may apply include: UM policy of the vehicle occupied by the injured child, UM policy of injured child’s parents, and / or UM policy of the injured child’s resident relatives. As an insured or covered person under one or more UM policies, the injured child, through his parents or guardians, can file a lawsuit against the UM carrier seeking damages / compensation from the UM carrier.
It has been reported that 1 in 5 teen drivers are involved in an automobile accident within the first year of driving. In 2011, 144 Florida teenagers died in Florida related automobile accidents. Nationwide, there are approximately 6000 teens killed in automobile accidents every year. Many of these accidents and deaths are avoidable with better driving and less driver’s distraction. You can read more about this topic at Danger of Teen Driving in Florida.
The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Medical Bills and Treatment, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury. Another helpful resource for parents is the book – When a Parent’s World Goes from Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About The Florida Wrongful Death Act. You can receive this book for free at From Full to Empty.