What Happens to Teenagers after an Accident

Even if your teenager is a responsible driver, parental instincts kick in every time your young driver leaves home. Several of us at The Flood Law Firm are parents, so we know the feeling.

By helping countless families in cases involving teen driver accidents, we know too well the emotional rollercoaster when a young life involved is in a car crash. This is one more reason why we take our work in auto accident cases seriously.

If your teen has been involved in a traffic collision, or your teen has been the victim of another’s negligence, we encourage you to contact our car accident lawyers for a confidential consultation about your rights and the issues that may be involved in your case.

Don’t delay contacting an attorney because this can be a difficult process to navigate alone. There are time limits on how long you have to bring a claim or lawsuit.

Our lawyers are some of the most experienced in the practice of auto accident representation and can be reached at (860) 346-2695.

We are here to support you and offer guidance that can help you make the best decision for your child.

Teenage Drivers

Connecticut law allows teenagers to get their driver’s license at age 16 with some very important restrictions. Teen drivers who break the law face fines and immediate license suspension for an initial 48 hours. Additional suspensions are imposed if a conviction for certain violations is determined.

Notably, a teen driver convicted of a 1st offense of using a cell phone or text messaging while driving faces a 30-day license suspension and a license restoration fee.

Connecticut driver’s licensing laws include the following graduated terms specifically for 16- and 17-year-old drivers.driving while distracted on phone

  • For the first 6 months after obtaining a driver license, the driver may only drive with:
    • A licensed driving instructor
    • Parents or legal guardians, at least one of whom holds a valid driver license
    • Person providing instruction who is at least 20 years old or has held a license for at least 4 years
  • For the second 6 months, the driver may drive with:The above listed people
    • Immediate family (e.g., brothers, and sisters)
  • Until their 18th birthday, drivers may not use cell phones (even if hands-free) or other mobile electronic devices while driving.

Teen Driver Risks

While many teens start driving with full respect for traffic laws and every intention of being responsible behind the wheel, the fact remains that without experience, even good intentions can be forgotten.

Surprising seat belt facts about teens

  • Teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use
  • In 2013, only 55% of high school students
    reported wearing seat belts when riding with others

Car crash risk is especially high during the first few months after getting a driver’s license. This may not always be due to irresponsibility or lack of attention. Sometimes, teen driver accidents happen simply because of a lack of experience.

As new drivers, teens are statistically more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations. They often may not recognize the potential for a hazardous situation until it is too late. In addition, they have less time to develop good habits, and thus are more likely to exceed the speed limit, leave too little space between the car in front of them, and not pass or change lanes with sufficient caution.

In today’s driving climate, there are more distractions than ever. From text messages to music apps to online games, smartphones offer teenagers constant temptation to take their eyes off the road. Even when smartphones are turned off, interaction with friends in the back seat, other activities such as personal grooming or eating, or simple lack of focus create conditions under which car accidents can easily happen. Statistics show that distracted driving accounts for at least 58 percent of all teen driving accidents.

What Happens After a Teenage Driver Is in an Accident

If your teenage driver is in an accident, we recommend you follow our car accident checklist. Contact our firm if your accident is serious, if there are physical injuries involved, or you feel that you require assistance with legal and insurance matters. Start with a no-obligation case consultation, you may need an attorney who your family can trust to represent your case.

If your child has not experienced an accident, we recommend that your family read through the car accident checklist and answer any questions your child may have.

Accident checklist tip:
Don’t say sorry.
This can imply guilt.

In respect to the toughest laws in the U.S., Connecticut has some of the strictest laws in the books where teenage driving is concerned. Many of these laws are meant to be preemptive, such as the state’s “new driver” laws around the most common risk factors for teen drivers.

These laws are in place not only to protect teenage drivers and those with whom they share the road, but also to help establish liability in the event a teen driver accident does occur. Violation of these laws that results in a car accident will mean that the teen is found to be at least partly at fault in the car accident.

View the most common accidents among teen drivers here.

Most teens who are found to be at fault in a car accident will have their license suspended for at least 30 days. There may also be court fines and a license restoration fee of $175. Second- and third-time offenses will involve a longer license suspension (between 90 days and 1 year) along with additional penalties, possibly including jail time. In the case of reckless driving or street racing, there is also the potential for jail time.Stressed teenager after an accident

Depending on how serious the driving infraction was that led to the accident, a teen driver may be classified as a “youthful offender.” Offenses that qualify as “youthful offender” infractions include: reckless driving, disregarding a police officer’s signal to stop, evading responsibility involving property damage or physical injury, or driving with a suspended license.

Being classified as a youthful offender may mean a lighter penalty for a negligent driver. More importantly, it gives the teen driver a chance to keep a criminal conviction off their record. If classified as a “youthful offender,” a teen driver may be assigned probation or parole, which sets strict rules to ensure that they change their behavior. While these rules can be difficult to live under, avoiding a criminal record can mean all the difference to a teenager’s future.

However, there are circumstances under which a teen driver cannot seek a lighter penalty. Connecticut law states that someone under 18 cannot be considered a youthful offender if they commit the following:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Negligent homicide with a motor vehicle
  • Evading responsibility following an accident that results in a death or serious injury

Parental and Guardian Liability of Teenagers Involved in Car Accidents

When you learn that your teenage child has been in a car accident, the most urgent question in your mind is whether or not they are okay. Liability issues, claims matters, and insurance companies follow (sometimes distressingly) very soon after. You will find that you need to piece together the details and circumstances around the accident, and also to determine who is to be held liable for the crash.

Connecticut state law subjects parents to potential legal and financial liability if a teenage driver violates their special restrictions and is subsequently found responsible for a car accident that leaves a victim injured or killed. If your teen driver is involved in a crash and found to be at fault, you as the parent and primary insured, are likely to bear the cost of damages, medical expenses, legal counsel, repair costs, fines, and increased insurance premiums.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help

If your teenage child has been in a car accident, it is crucial for you as the parent to protect your rights and defend your claim for you and your child. Being able to show that your child’s driving was not entirely to blame for the accident will make a huge difference, not only to your financial liability but also in your child’s continued right to drive.

connecticut personal injury attorneysAttempting to navigate the legal and insurance system on your own can be frustrating, especially in the hours and days following your child’s car accident. Let the expert attorneys at The Flood Law Firm help you get through this difficult time.

From getting to the doctor, to investigating the accident scene, to handling issues with insurance adjusters, our attorneys have helped thousands of Connecticut families get through the challenges that come with a teen driver accident.

Let us fight on behalf of your family so that you can focus on helping your teenage child recover and learn from the experience.

Call us today for a free, no-obligation consultation about your options at (860) 346-2695.