Recent research conducted by the AAA Foundation found that teenage motorists aged 16 to 17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal auto accident. This spike in accidents is due to teenagers’ lack of experience on the road. For a parent, this is an alarming statistic.
While you can’t protect your teens at all times, there are some things you can do and information you should know in the event they’re involved in an accident.
Their safety is first and foremost your biggest concern. But there’s also important legal information and procedures they need to understand in the event of an accident.
Today we’re discussing some Texas liability guidelines you and all young drivers should understand. We’ll also go over some tips on promoting safe driving habits.
Let’s get started.
Educate Your Teen on Accident Procedures
The moments following an auto accident are critical. For a teen, it’s often traumatic, but they should understand the steps they need to take.
If they don’t follow the proper procedures, an attorney may not be able to fully protect their rights in a personal injury claim
Notify the Police
Even if they feel they’re uninjured, your teen needs to notify the police right away. They may have sustained injuries they’re unaware of.
It’s also important to file a police report, even in the event of a minor accident. An accident report is necessary if you end up seeking recovery in a personal injury suit or from an insurance company.
Never Admit Blame
Many people assume that young drivers are the responsible party when involved in an accident. They may feel guilty or get pressured by the other driver to admit the accident was their fault.
Your teen should understand that they’re not obligated to admit anything. They should explain the accident to the police and let them determine who was at fault.
Your teen should always get the contact and insurance information from the other driver. If they’re able to, they should take photos of the cars.
This information is important if you end up hiring a personal injury attorney or claiming the wreck on insurance.
Family Purpose Doctrine
A major concern for parents who have young drivers is if they’ll be held liable if their son or daughter has an accident. In Texas, the Family Purpose Doctrine comes into play in these situations.
Under this doctrine, if a parent entrusted their teenager (a minor) with their vehicle, a party involved in the accident can hold them liable. If a parent’s son or daughter took their automobile without consent, the doctrine doesn’t apply.
Another aspect of the doctrine deals with a parent’s knowledge of their teen’s driving habits. The parent has to have knowledge of their children’s tendency towards reckless driving. Unless this is proven, a party cannot hold the parent liable.
If a parent is liable for the accident under the Family Purpose Doctrine, they can then get sued by the driver of the other vehicle or other parties involved in the accident.
Are They Insured?
Even young drivers who are still minors can get pursued for damages after an accident. As a parent, you need to make sure your teen has insurance coverage for the vehicle they drive.
This is likely something you’ve already done, but due to the increased likelihood of teen accidents, you need to ensure you have the proper amount of coverage.
The policy your son or daughter is on should carry enough liability coverage for serious injury or even death. If a parent assumes liability under the Family Purpose Doctrine, then it’s actually possible for a party to sue the parent and the minor.
It’s better to play it safe and have young drivers fully insured on your policy.
Promote Safe Driving Habits
One of the most important things you can do for your teenager before they start driving is to educate them on how to stay safe.
Distracted driving is a major problem for teen drivers. Instead of letting them learn the hard way, make sure they understand the following safety precautions.
- Never text and drive
- Try to keep passengers to a minimum
- Pay attention and yield to all road hazards
- Never speed
- Don’t drive as a recreational activity
- Never drink and drive
Making sure young drivers understand the potential consequences of poor driving habits is critical in ensuring their safety and avoiding a liability suit.
Another big factor in accidents involving minors is driving at night. Due to their inexperience on the road, you should restrict night driving as much as possible.
Even if your son or daughter is only traveling a short distance, other vehicles on the road become a bigger threat at night. Your teen may be a responsible driver, but there’s always a chance they could get injured by another motorist.
If this happens, you may need to contact a personal injury attorney to protect their rights.
Use a Distracted Driving Prevention App
Because so many teens have accidents due to distracted driving, it’s wise to enforce the use of a distracted driving app. These apps make it possible to prevent the use of cellphones while driving.
You can also use them to monitor their driving habits and behavior. It’s likely your son or daughter won’t be too enthused with this idea, but it drastically helps prevent a serious accident.
Let your child know that driving is a privilege. If they won’t play by your rules, you may need to restrict their driving.
Protect the Rights of Your Young Drivers
It’s a great feeling to watch your children grow. Unfortunately, their teenage years come with added risks.
The best way to keep your children safe on the road is to inform them of the dangers around them. They should also be prepared in the event of an accident. Going over the procedures and guidelines discussed above helps ensure safety and legal protection.
If your son or daughter gets injured in an auto accident and you need representation, contact us today.