Accidents involving student drivers are relatively rare but can create special liability issues when you're seeking reimbursement for damages. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to name three different parties in a car accident.
Types of Accidents Involving Student Drivers
Accidents involving student drivers can involve three different types of injured parties:
- Injuries to other drivers or passengers in their vehicles. Since the vehicles used in driver's education classes are clearly marked, most drivers will be extra cautious when encountering a student driver on the road. However, accidents can still occur if a student driver makes an error such as pulling out in front of another vehicle, braking unexpectedly, swerving, or turning the wrong way down a one-way road.
- Injuries to pedestrians or cyclists. There have been multiple cases of student drivers causing injuries to pedestrians or cyclists, since driver’s education classes often begin training students on residential streets.
- Injuries to people in the student driver's vehicle. Many driving schools will allow several students to ride as passengers in the same vehicle, so they can take turns driving and observing how their peers handle different situations on the road. Driver's education instructors are also at risk of injury in an accident.
Student Driver Liability
Although student drivers aren't licensed, they're still supposed to follow the basic rules of the road. A driver who is speeding or running a stop sign can be held responsible for injuries that result, even if he only has a learner's permit.
Evidence of student driver liability is most easily gathered immediately after the accident. Witness testimony, photographs of the accident scene, and reports from law enforcement can all be helpful in establishing fault and financial responsibility for your injuries.
Driver's ed instructors have a duty to take reasonable care to prevent accidents. The purpose of a driver's ed program is to allow students to develop their skills alongside an experienced driver who can provide instruction regarding safe driving practices. An instructor who fails to intervene when a student makes a mistake can be held responsible for resulting injuries.
For example, an instructor might be held liable if he was texting, reading, or otherwise distracted and missed the opportunity to use the extra set of brakes in the car to prevent the accident.
Driving School Liability
Driving schools can be held liable for accidents under certain circumstances. The school might be liable if it knowingly hired an unqualified instructor or allowed an instructor to continue working despite evidence of improper conduct. Allowing students to drive a car with bald tires, faulty brakes, or malfunctioning headlights could also cause the school to be held liable for injuries in the resulting accident.
Many private driving schools carry an insurance policy that covers all students, instructors, and the vehicles involved in lessons. In this case, the school might provide compensation for injuries and property damage even if the accident is determined to be solely the student's fault.
If your accident involved a student taking a public school driver's ed course, the case becomes more complex. Government agencies such as public schools have added protection from liability under the law. You can still seek compensation, but there will be special rules involved regarding the statute of limitations and additional notice requirements.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
When you're involved in an accident caused by another party's negligence, you're entitled to compensation for the damages you've suffered. This includes:
- Accident-related medical expenses such as doctor's visits, surgery, medication, and physical therapy
- Anticipated future medical care, if your injuries have left you permanently disabled
- Lost wages during your recovery
- Loss of future earning capacity, if your injuries are expected to limit your ability to earn an income in the future
- Pain and suffering
Since accidents involving student drivers can involve complex liability issues, enlisting the services of a skilled personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure you receive the compensation you need to move forward with your life. Your attorney will gather evidence, handle any necessary paperwork, and negotiate for the highest possible settlement—leaving you free to focus on your recovery.
Neblett, Beard & Arsenault has extensive experience helping Louisiana residents receive a fair settlement for their auto accident injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at one of our six convenient office locations. You can also call us directly at 800.256.1050.