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Can You Sue a Teen Driver if They Cause an Accident?

According to the CDC, teen drivers are “more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations.” They’re also “more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.” That means that when you’re driving near a teen driver, your chances of being involved in a crash go up.

But what happens after a car crash caused by a teen driver—especially if they’re under the age of 18? In Oklahoma, teens can begin driving at the age of 15 with an instructor, 15.5 with a learner permit, and 16 with an intermediate license. But as teens between the ages of 15 and 17 aren’t legal adults, what does that mean when they cause accidents that result in property damage and injuries? Can you still get compensation? The answer is yes, but the process for getting it is slightly different.

What Does the Law Say About Teen Drivers in Oklahoma?

In Oklahoma, all drivers are required to hold valid auto insurance. When driving on a learner permit and under the supervision of an adult, they don’t need their own insurance, as they are covered under their parents’ policies. But when they turn 16 or receive an intermediate license and begin driving on their own, they must be covered under their own coverage. That coverage is typically carried on their parents’ auto insurance policies.

Who and Whether You Can Sue Depends on Many Factors

First, it’s important to note that in the eyes of the law, there’s a big difference between a licensed and insured teenager who is driving their own vehicle, and a teenager who may or may not be licensed or insured driving their parents’ vehicle—that they may or may not have permission to drive!

An Oklahoma Supreme Court case from 1924 established that an injured victim must prove that the parents of the minor driver who hit them gave them permission to drive the vehicle that was involved in the accident. This scenario could apply if the teen snuck out and used his parents’ vehicle without their knowledge, or drove their own vehicle somewhere without parental permission.

If a teen who causes a crash didn’t have permission from their parents to drive, whether it was to travel to a certain place or use a vehicle at all, the injured driver may have to file a claim against their own insurance. It’s important to have an experienced lawyer review an accident like this to determine the best option and path for getting compensation.

Our Legal Knowledge Can Help Improve Your Claim’s Chances of Success

When underage teen drivers cause crashes, the injured victims and their lawyers must prove three things:

  • Their injuries were caused by the teen driver’s negligence.
  • The teen driver’s negligence is ultimately what contributed to or caused the crash, whether it was speeding, driving while distracted or impaired, failing to stop, or any other negligent behavior.
  • The teen driver’s parents knew they were driving and had given them permission to do so—i.e., they were driving to or from school, to run errands, to a friend’s house, etc.

The first two burdens of proof are present in all auto accident claims, but the third is unique to those involving teen drivers. It also requires a more in-depth investigation, and it’s not always easy to prove.

However, our Oklahoma auto accident lawyers have helped many people who were injured by teen drivers, and we know what it takes to gather the required evidence and prove to the insurance company or even to a jury that those teenagers and/or their parents should be held liable for any damages they caused.

Get Parrish DeVaughn On Your Side Today

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to learn that their child was involved in a car accident. But at the same time, the people that they injure shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for their own accident-related expenses when they weren’t at fault. If you or someone you love was hurt in an accident caused by a teen driver, we want to help. Contact our firm today for a free consultation.