You’re a responsible driver. You’re constantly on the lookout for erratic drivers and give them plenty of room on the road. This goes doubly so for student drivers.
When you imagine these kinds of drivers, the image of a nervous teenager in a car with a “Student Driver” bumper sticker probably comes to mind. But what happens if a driver’s ed student causes a car accident?
Even though they are still learning to drive, a driver’s ed student can be liable for causing a car accident. You could file a claim with the student driver’s insurance to cover any injuries you may have received in the accident. However, the driving instructor and driving school could also be liable.
Comparative Fault in Indiana
Indiana is a comparative fault state, meaning that all parties involved can be assigned some percentage of fault. Even if you weren’t the direct cause of the accident, you can still be assigned some fault.
In accidents between two licensed drivers, this comparative fault mainly determines who is most at-fault in an accident, based on the police report and insurance companies’ investigations.
If you’re seeking damages after you were injured in a car accident with a student driver, you should make sure that you’re not the party primarily at fault. If you are more than 50 percent at fault, you may not be able to recover any damages at all.
In cases between only two responsible parties, comparative fault can still be rather simple. However, if there was an instructor in the car with the student driver, they may also share liability for your injuries, even if they weren’t the one behind the wheel.
When it comes to car accidents with student drivers, there are many parties who could be at fault:
- The student driver
- The driving instructor
- The driving school
- The car manufacturer
Student Driver Negligence
Student drivers, by definition, aren’t completely ready to tackle the roads on their own. However, they must still obey the rules of the road to the best of their ability. This includes obeying stop signs, going the right way down one-way streets, checking their blind spots and yielding correctly at intersections.
If a student driver is negligent (i.e. doesn’t follow the rules of the road or drives in an unsafe manner) and causes your car accident, then you could file a personal injury claim with the student’s insurance. If the student is covered by their parent’s car insurance, then you would file a claim with their parent’s insurance.
Driving Instructor or Driving School Negligence
As such, the culpability for many student-caused accidents often fall to the instructors or the schools that employ them.
While it isn’t unheard-of for a student driver to be liable in an accident, you’re more than likely dealing with flawed instructions from a supervisor who should have known better. Instructors are responsible for preventing the student from causing otherwise preventable accidents—especially in cases where teachers have their own passenger brake pedal.
Negligence can come from inattentive instructors, but the driving school who employed the negligent instructor can also be held liable. This is because driving schools are responsible for hiring responsible employees, and for maintaining the test vehicles.
If the car accident occurred because the auxiliary brake pedal was defective, then the manufacturer of the test driving vehicle could be liable for your injuries.
However, the driving school is responsible for regular maintenance. If the accident was caused by a problem that the school could have fixed, then it probably isn’t a product liability case.
When multiple parties are involved in a car accident, a local personal injury lawyer can help you determine how best to proceed in your individual case.
Help from a Muncie Car Accident Lawyer
While you’re trying to keep roads safe for those who are just learning how to drive them at all, you shouldn’t have to worry about a personal injury accident with a student driver. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident caused by a student driver, Hensley Legal Group may be able to help. Call us today or contact us online for a free conversation about your claim.