• By: Graham Sutliff
  • Published: December 2020

student driver car accidents In any car crash, liability is typically cut-and-dry. But when a student driver only has a learning permit, liability becomes more complicated. Fortunately, accidents involving student drivers are relatively rare, but this can create issues when seeking compensation for damages. Navigating through this type of claim is tricky, which is why you should consider hiring a personal injury attorney.

Liability When a Student Driver Causes an Accident

When an unlicensed driver is out on the road and causes an accident, three entities can take liability for the crash: the student, the instructor, or the driving school. However, liability all depends on the situation. An insurance company will consider the extent of responsibility, negligence, and the actions which led to the crash.

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Student Driver Liability

Even when students are learning how to drive, they have a legal obligation to drive in a reasonably safe manner and follow the road’s basic rules. If they’re speeding or running a stop sign, they can be held responsible for injuries that occur because of their recklessness. You should gather evidence immediately after the accident. Witness statements, photographs, and police reports can be helpful when establishing liability.

Instructor Liability

If you’re in an accident with a student driver, you may be able to file a claim against the instructor. Instructors have to take reasonable care to prevent accidents. The purpose of a driver’s education program is to allow students to develop their skills alongside an experienced driver who can provide instruction regarding safe driving practices.

An instructor can be liable if they fail to intervene when a student makes a mistake. Additionally, an instructor could be responsible if they were texting, reading, or otherwise distracted when a crash occurred that otherwise would have been avoided.

Driving School Liability

Additionally, the driving school itself may be to blame. However, placing blame on driving schools becomes a little tricky. The school may be responsible for their employees’ carelessness, hiring an inadequate instructor, or improper vehicle maintenance.

  • Vicarious liability: Driving schools are responsible for managing and training their employees, meaning they are vicariously liable for the harmful actions of their employees as long as the employee was acting in the scope of their job. You might be able to bring an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the company if their employees were careless or reckless on the job.
  • Negligent hiring: Driving schools may be liable if they don’t take the time to conduct proper background checks. If a school hires someone they know or should have known would be a poor employee, they may be responsible for that employee’s actions.
  • Improper vehicle maintenance: If driving schools send students and instructors on the road with faulty equipment that causes an accident, you can bring a claim against the driving school.

However, if your accident involved a student taking a public school driving course, the case becomes more complicated. Public schools have added protection from liability under the law. You can still seek compensation, but it may be more challenging.

How to Protect Your Legal Rights After a Car Accident

When you’re involved in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, you’re entitled to compensation for the damages you suffered. This may include:

  • Accident-related medical expenses
  • Anticipated future care
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

Since accidents involving student drivers are more complex, it’s crucial to obtain as much information as possible. Write down the student and instructor’s name and information on the driving school. You should also take photos and call the police.

Contact Car Accident Personal Injury Attorneys in Houston at Sutliff & Stout

If you were in a car accident involving a student driver, determining the at-fault party becomes more challenging. The experienced auto accident lawyers at Sutliff & Stout can help you if you have been injured in a car crash in Houston or surrounding cities. Our Board-Certified lawyers have helped clients receive millions of dollars in recovery.

To schedule a free consultation, call (713) 987-7111 or complete our online contact form. Our team will fight to win you the compensation you deserve.

About the Author

Graham Sutliff is a founding partner at Sutliff & Stout, Injury & Accident Law Firm. Among other awards and certifications, he is Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law and has been recognized by Thomson Reuters as a Super Lawyer for the past decade. In 2019 alone, Graham recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for his clients who were injured by others. To learn more about Graham, click here.

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