What Happens if a Minor Caused a Car Accident?
Vehicle accidents are not uncommon in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Unfortunately, it is also not uncommon for those involved to sustain significant injuries. In general, victims of vehicle accidents will be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party. However, there is often confusion about what happens if a minor (somebody under the age of 18) causes a vehicle accident. Clearly, minors are allowed to operate vehicles in Illinois, so how will this affect the outcome of a vehicle accident that they cause?
If you have been involved in an accident, contact our Chicago car accident lawyers today for a free consultation.
Younger Drivers and Safety
When we look at data provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation, we can see that there are hundreds of thousands of individuals in this state that are under the age of 18 that have their driver’s licenses. The reality is that we allow drivers who are under 18 to operate vehicles, so we have to be ready to handle accidents that occur involving minors. And yes, there are going to be times when drivers under the age of 18 cause an accident. The simple reality is that young drivers do not have nearly as much experience as other drivers on the roadway.
According to the most recent year of data available from the Illinois DOT, we can see that there were more than 7,300 total accidents caused by 16-year-olds and more than 10,000 accidents caused by 17-year-olds.
Just like adults, children make mistakes when they are operating vehicles – also just like adults, you can file a vehicle accident claim against a minor.
These Drivers Have Insurance
Any driver in Illinois is required to be insured. The vast majority of vehicle accident cases in this state are resolved through settlement with insurance carriers, regardless of the age of the victim. When a vehicle accident occurs that was caused by a minor, parties involved will file a claim with their insurance carrier, and their insurance carrier will, in turn, file a claim against the minor’s insurance carrier.
Any driver or passenger injured in a crash caused by a driver under the age of 18 should be entitled to various types of compensation. This could include coverage of their medical bills, lost income if they cannot work, property damage expenses, and more.
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Minor
There are times where insurance carriers refuse to offer a fair settlement or even deny a claim altogether. In these cases, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver and their insurance carrier. In cases involving minors, this often means filing a lawsuit against the parents’ auto insurance carrier. This is particularly true if the minor is operating a vehicle owned by the parent and operating under their insurance policy. In these situations, the lawsuit will be primarily against the parents but based on the negligent actions of the child.
In the event the minor is the owner of the vehicle but does not have insurance, most jurisdictions will make the parents responsible for a portion of the damages. Therefore, if you are involved in a vehicle accident with a minor who has little to no insurance, you may be able to file a claim against the parents and collect from various insurance policies or recover money as a result of a jury verdict. Contact our Chicago personal injury lawyers today for a free consultation.