Teen Driving Accidents in Florida
According to 2011 Florida crash statistics, there were 28,176 teen crashes in our state in 2011, marking an increase of nearly 5 percent from the year before. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that drivers within this age group are 70 percent more likely to file insurance claims for crashes than average. As these numbers show, teens can be dangerous drivers – and not only to themselves.
If you or a loved one was involved in a car accident involving a teen driver, it is important that you understand your rights under Florida law. Contact Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, to learn more about your legal rights and the options you may have to obtain compensation to cover your economic and non-economic losses. Call our toll-free number or complete our online form. Our consultations are always free.
How Do Teen Car Accidents Happen?
Florida recognizes that teenage drivers present a risk to themselves and others due to their inexperience and tendency to make potentially bad decisions. As such, the state uses a graduated drivers’ license system, requiring a learner’s permit and 50 hours of supervised drive time before a license is granted. Once a license is granted, drivers ages 16 and 17 cannot drive after 11 p.m. or 1 a.m., respectively, unless going to and from work.
Unfortunately, the laws aimed at protecting teen drivers only go so far in preventing teen car accidents.
Causes of teen car accidents include:
- Inexperience – Although the NSC indicates that 74 percent of parents believe risk-taking is the cause of most teen accidents, the Allstate Foundations’ research shows that the leading cause of teen car wrecks is simple inexperience.
- Intoxication – There were 17,067 crashes in the state last year in which alcohol was suspected to have played a role, and there were 10,008 accidents where the role of alcohol was confirmed. Despite zero-tolerance rules for teens, some of those accidents occurred because a young person drove drunk.
- Too many passengers – Having multiple passengers in the car with a teen driver can be very dangerous for everyone involved. A study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Center revealed that around 69 percent of teenagers routinely have two or more friends under 21 in their car with them. Unfortunately, teens with passengers in the car are twice as likely to crash.
- Distraction – All kinds of distractions exist in a car. A young driver may want to change the music on his iPod or switch the radio station. A young driver may also decide to brush his or her hair, apply cosmetics, enter an address into a navigation system or otherwise do something besides focusing on the road. This can be devastating, especially as Distraction.gov reported that 11 percent of fatal wrecks involving drivers ages 20 and under involved driver distraction.
- Cell phones/texting – Using a cell phone to talk or text is one of the absolute riskiest things anyone can do behind the wheel. The use of any handheld device makes a driver four times as likely to get into a wreck, while texting and driving makes a driver 23 times as likely to crash. Yet, despite the dangers, 26 percent of teenagers admitted in a survey that they’d sent a text at least once in prior month, and 40 percent of teens admitted they’d been in a car with someone doing something dangerous on his phone.
- Fatigue – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently conducted a large-scale study of around 147,000 people and asked them if they’d dozed off behind the wheel at least once in the past month. A total of 4.9 percent of the drivers in the 18-24 age group answered in the affirmative, admitting they’d fallen asleep. The average of all drivers of all age groups was 4.2 percent of drivers dozing off. Teens are not only more likely than average to fall asleep, but unfortunately a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study indicated they are less likely to stop and rest when tired.
- Excessive speed – Speeding was described as “fun” by 17 percent of teenagers responding to an Allstate survey. More than half (55 percent) had engaged in this type of “fun,” going 10 miles or more per hour over the limit.
When a young driver talks on his cell phone, speeds, falls asleep or makes a careless error, this young driver is setting himself up for disaster. Unfortunately, passengers and innocent third parties can also become the victim of a bad choice made by a teen driver.
Taking Legal Action against a Teenage Driver
Under the laws in Florida, people involved in car wrecks can take legal action in the case of serious injury by filing a lawsuit or claim against the driver who caused their damages.
It is important to realize that you are not going to be directly collecting money from the teenager in a lawsuit. This is a key factor for many teen car accident victims. Some are hesitant to sue a young person. The insurance company pays for the legal bills and compensates you for your losses when a teen driver causes an accident. Teens have to carry insurance just like everyone else, and their insurance should have to pay out when the behavior of the teen causes harm.
A lawyer from Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, can work to negotiate a settlement for you, or you can go to court and have a jury decide if the teen driver was to blame and how much money you should collect.
The right course of action will depend upon your case and the settlement offer on the table.
A fair settlement can allow you to avoid the hassle and expense of a courtroom battle, but you must ensure you are fully compensated for all your losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress.
If the teenager’s actions ended in a death, then the surviving family members of the person killed can file a wrongful death claim.
To learn more about your options, call Philip DeBerard, Injury Attorney, at our toll-free number or take a moment to fill out our online form. You can schedule a free consultation.
- Florida Traffic Crash Facts, 2011, Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- Teenage Driver Fatalities by State, 2012 Preliminary Data, Governors Highway Safety Association
- Find out about the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, National Safety Council
- Two-Thirds of Parents Wish They Spent More Time Teaching Their Teen to Drive in High-Risk Situations, National Safety Council
- What is Distracted Driving?
- Teen Drivers Texting Much More Than Parents Think: Study, The Car Connection
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