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Who Pays if a Teen Driver Causes a Crash?

teen drivers and crash liabilityAs teens approach the age when they can begin driver training, it is a good idea for parents to learn more about the risks and responsibilities they are taking on.

For instance, when do you need to add your teen to your insurance? What happens if your teen is involved in a crash? Who pays if your teen driver caused the crash?

At Jay Trucks, our Flint-area auto accident lawyers have decades of experience managing injury claims. If your teen is involved in a crash, we are prepared to discuss your situation and determine if you have a case at no cost to you. If we represent you, we have the resources to investigate the cause of the crash and dispute any wrongly-assessed liability against your teen.

FREE Case Review. 989-244-0537

Can Parents Be Held Liable for a Teen Driver’s Crash in a No-Fault State?

This is a critical question for the parent of a young driver, especially since the answer is yes. Parents can be held liable for damages if their teen driver causes a crash. Both parents and teens should be sure to understand this before driver training begins.

In Michigan, drivers and their passengers are covered by no-fault insurance. This insurance helps to cover medical costs, lost wages, prescription medication expenses and other damages following a car crash. That said, a no-fault claim may not always be sufficient to fully cover the damages.

When Does Liability Matter in a No-Fault State?

Liability becomes a necessary point if the injured victim needs to pursue excess damages beyond his or her personal injury protection (PIP) insurance limits.

One example of when this might happen is if a crash victim suffered impairment of a bodily function in a crash your teen caused. If this victim’s injuries meet the state’s injury threshold, there may be a valid third-party lawsuit. If your teen is the at-fault driver and is also listed on your policy, there may be a claim against your liability insurance.

Michigan’s Comparative Negligence Law

As a driver in the crash, your teen will need to give an account of what happened. Be sure your teen understands in this situation that honesty is critical, but at no point should he or she voluntarily admit fault.

Following a investigation, your teen, along with the other driver, will be assessed a percentage of fault for the accident. If your teen is assessed with less liability than the other driver, your teen may have a claim against that driver. However, if your teen is assessed with 51 percent or more liability, the claim would likely be against your teen.

When Can Teens Begin Driving in Michigan?

The good news is that before teens can get a full license in Michigan, there is an extensive driver education program they must complete. A teen driver’s training can begin as early as when they turn 14 years and eight months. However, Michigan’s graduated licensing program requires completing two training segments and three licensing levels before they can become a fully licensed driver.

The idea behind this extensive training program is to give teens as much supervised time behind the wheel as possible. More on-road driving practice helps to instill skills and confidence in your teen driver. This training plays a critical role in helping Michigan’s teens to become better and safer drivers.

When Do You Have to Insure Your Teen Driver?

Generally, Michigan no-fault insurers may not require additional coverage for your teen while they are still in training and not yet licensed. However, do not assume that is the case. We strongly recommend before your child even begins driver training, that you talk to your insurance company to learn about their specific requirements.

Finding out your teen is not covered after he or she causes a crash could result in a significant financial hardship.

What if You Fail to Notify Your Insurer About Your Teen Driver?

As a parent, you are required to notify your insurer about your teen driver. Once he or she is licensed, you will need to add them to your vehicle. or to the teen’s own vehicle, if that is the case.

If you fail to notify your insurer about your teen driver, or withhold any information to try to keep your rates down, the outcome could be disastrous. For one, your insurance provider could legally cancel your insurance policy, even after a crash. This could mean not having no-fault insurance to help with medical bills. If your teen was not at fault for the crash, he or she may also be unable to sue the other party, regardless of how severely he or she was injured.

Understanding Your Parental Responsibility for Your Teen Driver

Parents must be involved in both the legal and learning process of a teen driver. For starters, parents must provide permission for their teen to begin Michigan’s driver’s training and sign their teen driver’s license.

Under Michigan law, parents can be held liable for up to $2,500 in damages for any willful or malicious destruction of property caused by their teen. How does this relate to your teen and driving? This law extends to include any purposeful damage a teen may do with a vehicle.

Parents with concerns about their teen’s maturity level or problematic behavior may help to limit their liability by:

  • Postponing allowing their teen to start driving until he or she is more mature
  • Having their teen buy their own car, and putting the title in his or her name
  • Getting a separate insurance policy for their teen driver

Can I Help My Teen To Be a Safer Driver?

The answer is absolutely. In fact, parents have a far greater impact on their teen driver behind the wheel than they realize. In addition to supporting and working with Michigan’s graduated driver training program, parents can help their teens to be safer drivers by:

  • Being personally involved in your teen’s driving practice
  • Going out regularly with your teen to provide frequent and varied opportunities to practice driving
  • Having a two-way conversation with your teen about what being a responsible driver means
  • Setting early ground rules for using electronic devices, playing music and using GPS

One of the best ways you can help your teen to be a safer driver is to be one yourself. Teens copy what they see, even if they do not always realize it. If they see you frequently speeding, not wearing your seatbelt or blowing through red lights, teens are likely to think that behavior is okay.

Our Firm is Ready to Provide Legal Help After a Crash

Jay Trucks has been helping injured victims throughout Michigan for decades, obtaining millions in compensation on their behalf.

If you or a loved one have been injured by the negligence of another driver, one of our qualified attorneys is ready to help. There is no cost or risk to find out if you may have a case. If we represent you, there is also nothing for you to pay up front while we manage your case. We only get paid if you do.

Proven Results. 989-244-0537