Many student drivers are on the road, and we all remember how nervous we were when we first got behind the wheel. Student drivers make many mistakes, but driving schools help to ease some of that inexperience. Knowing you have someone in the passenger seat who can take over at a moment’s notice is a relief. However, what happens when a student driver causes an accident? Who is responsible for injuries and property damage? Since the student driver only uses a learner’s permit, there is a lot of room for error and legal repercussions.
Recently, a student driver went viral after hitting another vehicle and a traffic light when trying to pull into a parking lot. The accident occurred when the student driver turned left and sideswiped a car. That should have been the end of the incident. The drivers would exchange information and file insurance claims, and the driving instructor would have taken over.
That did not happen; instead, the student driver attempted to enter a parking lot to resolve the issue. When they turned, they rammed into a traffic light pole which landed on top of them. The traffic light was replaced the next day, and there were no reported injuries.
What is a student driver’s liability in a Harrisburg car accident?
Liability is very complex when it comes to car accidents involving student drivers. You are eligible to recover compensation when they are careless in their driving. You must show the student driver was not driving safely, which led to your injuries and losses. While there is an apparent learning curve for student drivers, that does not excuse blatant disregard for road rules.
Student drivers must have at least minimal knowledge, like knowing they must stop at a stop sign and check blind spots before switching lanes. They must obey speed limits, yield correctly, and follow traffic signals. When a student driver begins their driving journey, they may practice on a driving course or empty parking lot until they are comfortable enough to hit the road.
What liability does the driving instructor have?
Instructors are there to correct student drivers and ensure they learn how to drive safely and correctly. The driving instructors must use their experience to avoid incidents and teach. Most driving schools equip vehicles with an additional brake and steering wheel to take over when the student is in danger or endangering others. Professional driving instructors have training in taking over during emergencies. The viral video of the student driver is a prime example of an emergency where the instructor should have taken over.
When an instructor doesn’t take over in an emergency, they are liable for the accident. Depending on the circumstances, they can bear full or share responsibility with the student driver. The instructor or driving school will likely have business insurance, which will not affect their personal insurance policy. If the instructor had stepped on the second set of brakes in the vehicle, the car likely would not have hit the light pole, and there would have only been one accident and not the chain reaction of incidents.
The driving school is also liable
Aside from the student driver and the instructor, the driving school can also hold liability, and drivers can file a claim against them for several reasons. These insurance claims are much more complex than holding the student driver or instructor responsible for your losses. There are three reasons for which you can potentially sue the driving school for negligence. They can be liable for negligent hiring, defective vehicles, or vicarious liability.
Driving schools must run background checks and vet their employees before they allow them to begin instruction. If they do not check the person’s background and work history, they can face a claim for negligent hiring. If an investigation finds that the driving school did not look into the instructor’s driving background properly, they are responsible for the employee’s careless actions during an accident. As a student driving accident victim, you must have a Harrisburg car accident lawyer investigate the accident and look into the instructor’s credentials.
Driving schools have special vehicles with equipment meant to help instructors take over and correct the careless actions of students. The driving school is liable if an instructor attempts to avoid an accident but cannot because there is a malfunctioning brake or steering wheel. The vehicle cannot be on the road if it has a faulty part. The company is liable for vehicle maintenance and ensuring safety for its instructors and student drivers.
Lastly, you can file an insurance claim against the driving school for vicarious liability. Driving schools must look into their employees’ backgrounds and provide adequate training. Suppose the instructor was within the scope of their employment and did everything possible to prevent an accident, but because the school didn’t train the instructor well, he or she couldn’t help the student prevent the crash. In this case, the driving school may be held partially responsible for paying an insurance claim.
As you can tell, you have various legal remedies available after an accident with a student driver. Although the claims process is complex, your personal injury attorney can walk you through each step.
You can file three claims when there is an accident with a student driver. You can file an insurance claim against the student driver, the instructor, or the driving school. Depending on the circumstances, our Harrisburg car accident lawyer will investigate the incident and determine which insurance claim is suitable for your circumstances. If an insurance claim is not feasible, we will file a personal injury claim instead. After an accident with a student driver contact KBG Injury Law’s Harrisburg office for a free initial consultation. Call us today at 717-848-3838, or complete our contact form today. We have additional offices in York, Lancaster, Hanover, and Gettysburg.
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client.