Teen drivers are required to follow the same driving rules as adult drivers and are expected to assume the same level of responsibility. However, many teens are not prepared to take on the responsibility of driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are a higher number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers, and they often lack the skills needed to stay safe behind the wheel. Teen drivers often speed, become easily distracted, and do not have enough experience to make decisions that can prevent accidents from happening. Thus, teen drivers are more likely than adults to be in accidents that result in serious or fatal injuries.
Florida’s Graduated Driver Licensing System
Most states, including Florida, have a graduated licensing system that can help limit driving situations that are higher risk for teen drivers. This type of system has proven to reduce accidents among teens by 50%.
In Florida, a teen must be at least 15 years of age to get a learner’s license. They need to be accompanied by a licensed driver who is over the age of 21 and will only be able to drive during daylight hours for the first three months. After those first three months, they will not be permitted to drive after 10 p.m. The learner’s license is for 12 months after it is issued or until the teen turns 16. The learner’s license requires 50 hours of supervised driving with 10 hours of night driving.
After a learner’s license, a driver’s license is issued, but it has the following restrictions for teen driver’s:
- Age 16 night driving restrictions limit driving from 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. unless it is for work or the driver is accompanied with a licensed driver over the age of 21.
- Age 17 night driving restrictions limit driving from 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless it is for work or the driver is accompanied with a licensed driver over the age of 21.
The graduated license in Florida is designed to give teen drivers experience while lowering their risk by restricting driving during specific times until they obtain their full driving privileges.
Common Causes of Teen Driving Accidents
While not every accident involving a teen driver is their fault, many accidents are. Speeding is one of the leading causes of teen accidents, as well as:
- Inexperience. Limited experience behind the wheel can pose a risk for teens because they may not be prepared for hazards on the roads or situations they haven’t yet encountered.
- Distractions. Teens often drive while distracted. Distractions can be texting, talking on the phone, eating, listening to music, or talking to others in the vehicle.
- Intoxication. Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and can put the teen and others in danger.
- Drowsiness. Driving when tired due to lack of sleep or being exhausted from after-school activities can affect a teen’s decision-making when behind the wheel and increase their risk for an accident.
Proving Liability and Recovering Damages
In Florida, a parent or guardian can be liable for an accident caused by their teen’s negligent driving when:
- The teen is under 18 and the parent or guardian has signed for the driver’s application in order for the teen to obtain a license. If the teen is found negligent, the parent or guardian is liable.
- If the teen is over 18 and is using a car owned by the parent or guardian, the liability falls on the car owner.
Keep in mind that Florida is a no-fault state, and your car insurance’s personal injury protection (PIP) will cover the first $10,000 for any injuries or losses regardless of who caused the accident. Many teens are covered under the insurance policy of their parent or guardian unless they have their own policy. If you’re hurt in a car crash with a teen driver, it’s important to determine who’s liable for your injuries, so you can be compensated for damages.
After an accident involving a teen driver, it is important to contact an attorney. Some ways an attorney can help with your accident case include:
- Investigating and gathering evidence to support your injury claim
- Calculating what your case is worth
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Representing you if the case goes to court
If the teen driver has been negligent and either they or their parent or guardian is found liable, you may be able to recover the following damages:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and earnings
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage and out-of-pocket expenses
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
If you suffered injuries from an accident caused by a teen driver, contact Browning Law Firm to schedule a free, initial consultation with our legal team. Contact us online, or call us today.