Who Is Liable If a Teen Driver Hits You?

Who Is Liable If a Teen Driver Hits You?Many teenagers are thrilled and excited to get their driver’s license and hit the roads, giving the rest of us drivers no choice but to share the roadways with them. Individuals this young usually do not have much experience or driving skills, which causes the rate of accidents involving teen drivers to be very high. When you are driving in Chicago and surrounding areas, it is crucial to be cautious, pay attention, and be aware of your surroundings at all times.

According to Chicago’s Parental Responsibility Law 740 ILCS 115/3, “the parent or legal guardian of an unemancipated minor who resides with such parent or legal guardian is liable for actual damages for the wilful or malicious acts of such minor which caused injury to a person or property.”

So, what does that mean? Generally, it means that parents could be liable for any injuries their kids cause while driving, no matter how old the child is, if that child is found to have acted intentionally. Your high school senior celebrates her 18th birthday a little too hard and drives drunk? You’re probably liable. Your teenager was acting like a fool on the highway, aggressively tailgating drivers and cutting them off, and ends up causing a multi-car pileup? You’re probably liable.

When it comes to these types of car accidents, your attorney needs to look deeply into the facts and details of your accident to find out whether the teenage driver’s behavior was intentional or not. If a parent is considered to be liable under the Chicago Parental Responsibility Law, they will likely be required to pay for your damages, including your medical expenses, lost income, vehicle damage, and more.

Damage caps for losses caused by a teen or minor driver

In the state of Illinois, there is a limit on how much the parent may have to pay for their child’s damages, which is $20,000. However, if this is not the first time that the child has exhibited willful or malicious behavior and there is another occurrence where the child caused an accident and injured someone due to this behavior, the limit on how much the parent may have to pay in damages is increased to $30,000.

Keep in mind that these limits do not include court and lawyer taxes and fees. Further, this law doesn’t apply in all car accident cases.

What it means to be liable for your teen driver

We’ve already explained the damages you could be forced to pay, but there are other considerations that we think you should know.

  • If your child has a history of reckless or dangerous behavior, you could be on the hook for not correcting that behavior.
  • Insurance follows the car, so if your unlicensed child causes a car crash, your insurance premiums will go up, and your insurance company may even drop you.
  • If your child critically injures another person, that victim may choose to sue you personally for additional damages – and that can cost you far more than $20,000 or $30,000.
  • If your child uses the vehicle to intentionally inflict injury or even death on another person, you may find yourself facing criminal charges, too.

Can you sue a minor for your Chicago car accident?

You can – but generally speaking, you’d sue the minor and his or her parents.

Before you file any lawsuit, though, you’d start with an insurance claim. We would negotiate with the insurance company for a fair and just settlement. We’d seek the same types of damages: reimbursement for medical costs, lost wages, and repairs; any other tangible expenses; and compensation for your pain and suffering.

But if negotiations didn’t succeed – and insurance companies don’t always play fair, so they may not – then we would file a personal injury lawsuit against the child and his or her parents.

What is the leading cause of accidents for teenage drivers?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that car accidents are the number one cause of deaths among teenagers. In 2020 alone, almost 3,000 teenagers died, and more than 220,000 teenagers suffered injuries in car accidents. However, there are certain factors that put teenage drivers at risk of these accidents, such as:

There is not one leading cause of accidents for teenage drivers. Instead, each of these factors put teenage drivers at an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes as compared to other age groups. The CDC reports that “The risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among teens ages 16–19 than among any other age group. Teen drivers in this age group have a fatal crash rate almost three times as high as drivers ages 20 and older per mile driven.”

Car accident cases involving teen drivers can be difficult and complicated because they require in-depth investigation, excellent analytical skills, and strong determination. Therefore, when you are faced with this type of case, you want to make sure that you have an experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable lawyer by your side to guide you through the legal process. At Gainsberg Injury and Accident Lawyers, we have over 20 years of experience, we know the ins and outs of accidents involving teenage drivers, and we are determined to protect your rights and demand the justice and compensation you need and deserve to get your life back on track. Call our Chicago car accident attorneys or submit our contact form to schedule your free, no-obligation case review today.