Hit by a Teen With a Learner's Permit? What Are Your Legal Options?

Being involved in an auto accident is an unpleasant but somewhat inevitable part of the driving life -- in fact, most drivers will file an accident claim at least once every 18 years. However, being struck by an unlicensed driver or a teenager who is covered only by a learner's permit can present some additional complications you may not be prepared for, even if you've been through the accident scenario before. Read on to learn more about your legal options if you're struck by a teenager who has only a learner's permit.

Who is responsible for your injuries or property damage if the other driver was unlicensed?

If you're struck or injured by an adult driver who has never been licensed or who is driving under a suspended license, you'll have a legal claim against the driver -- and the driver is likely to be subject to a misdemeanor or felony driving while suspended charge as well.

However, if you're struck by someone who is under age 18 and has a learner's permit, your claim will likely be against the driver's parent or legal guardian rather than the driver him- or herself, unless the driver is engaging in such reckless behavior that he or she is criminally charged as an adult for all resulting crimes and damages. In order for a learner's permit to be issued in most states, the underage driver will need to be driving under the supervision of a responsible adult. Being struck by a teen driver will fall under that adult's legal responsibilities, even if the adult wasn't in the car during the accident and even if he or she didn't give the teen permission to take the vehicle.

What are your legal options if you're struck by a driver with only a learner's permit? 

If you're injured by a teen driver, your first step should be to contact your insurance company. Your agent should be able to negotiate with the teen driver's insurer (or his or her parents) to come to a fair settlement of your property damage, injuries, and other losses.

However, if the other driver was uninsured and your insurance company is unwilling to pay damages, or if you're unhappy with the settlement amount being offered by the teen driver's insurance company, you may want to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver's parents or guardians to seek compensation for your losses. Because most states provide plaintiffs with only a couple of years to file these claims, it's important to get moving quickly. Talk to attorneys like Loughlin Fitzgerald P C for more information.