According to the South Carolina Department of Insurance (DOI), a teen driver is involved in a collision that results in injury or death every 1.4 hours. This amounts to approximately 17 accidents per day or 6,257 accidents per year. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a teen driver, you need to have a clear understanding of your next steps, and it will be important for you to hire an experienced Rock Hill car accident lawyer to help you assert your legal rights.
While car accidents involving teen drivers may seem somewhat unique, they are just like any other type of accident for insurance purposes. If the teen driver was at fault, their insurance policy should cover your accident-related losses. To secure coverage, you need to prove that the teen driver was at fault, which means that you will need to hire a lawyer to conduct an investigation.
INVESTIGATING A CAR ACCIDENT INVOLVING A TEEN DRIVER IN SOUTH CAROLINA
When investigating the accident, your lawyer will seek to gather evidence from several different sources. Examining the accident scene is usually the first step, but there can be many additional steps as well. For example, depending on the circumstances involved, all of the following can potentially be used to prove that a teen driver is responsible for causing a serious or fatal accident:
- Forensic Evidence from the Scene of the Accident – Skidmarks, debris from the vehicles involved, damage to guardrails and signposts, and other types of forensic evidence can all be used to help establish liability after a crash in South Carolina.
- Examination of the Vehicles Involved in the Crash – An examination of each of the vehicles involved in the crash can help identify the at-fault driver as well. The location and severity of the damage to each vehicle, items inside of the teen driver’s vehicle, and other evidence may all still be available.
- Video Footage of the Accident – If the accident was caught on a traffic camera, surveillance camera, or cell phone camera video, the accident footage could clearly establish that the teen driver caused the collision.
- Cell Phone Records – Studies have shown that a significant percentage of teen drivers use their phones behind the wheel. If the teen driver who hit you or your loved one was distracted, their cell phone records might prove it.
- Vehicle “Black Box” Data – Modern cars have computers that store historical data similar to black boxes on airplanes. This includes data regarding speed, braking, and use of GPS/infotainment systems.
- Testimony from Eye Witnesses – Passengers and other eyewitnesses may testify as to what they saw—and this could point to the teen driver as the one responsible for the crash.
- Social Media Posts – A surprising number of teen drivers will post about their accidents on social media. Whether social media posts include photos, videos, or written statements, they can be used as evidence of liability in many cases.
- The Police Report – If a police officer responded to the accident scene, there should be a police report on record (you may have received a copy of the police report before you left the scene). The police report could include several important pieces of information that your lawyer can use to help build your case.
- Any Charges Filed Against the Teen Driver – If the teen driver was charged with speeding, texting behind the wheel, driving while intoxicated, or any other offense, this could potentially be relevant to your case as well. However, there are limits on when a criminal case can affect a driver’s civil liability.
SEEKING FINANCIAL COMPENSATION AFTER AN ACCIDENT INVOLVING A TEEN DRIVER
South Carolina law requires all drivers to be insured. A teen may have their own policy, or the teen’s parents may have a policy covering all drivers in their family household. In many cases, parents will purchase additional insurance coverage if their teen driver causes a collision.
Even so, in cases involving serious and fatal accidents, a teen driver’s insurance coverage still might not be enough. When this is an issue, victims and their families must pursue other sources of financial compensation. Typically, this involves either or both of the following:
- Filing an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Claim – If you have UIM insurance, you can use it if your losses exceed the teen driver’s insurance coverage (or if the teen driver was uninsured).
- Filing a “Dram Shop” or Other Third–Party Liability Claim – Under South Carolina’s “dram shop” law, vendors can be held liable for serving alcohol to underage drivers. Social hosts can face liability for serving underage drivers, and employers can also face liability when their teen employees cause accidents on the road.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO NEXT?
So, you need to file a claim for an accident caused by a teen driver. What should you do next? At this point, your next step should be to consult with a lawyer. You will need a lawyer to conduct an investigation right away, and the outcome of the investigation will determine what claim (or claims) you need to file.
You will also need to work with your lawyer to calculate just compensation. This includes not only just compensation for your financial losses but your non-financial losses as well. Pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of companionship, and loss of enjoyment of life are all losses for which financial compensation is available under South Carolina law.
TALK TO A ROCK HILL CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER IN CONFIDENCE
If you need to file a claim for an accident caused by a teen driver in South Carolina, we can help. For a free and confidential consultation with a Rock Hill car accident lawyer, call (803) 327-1103 or tell us how we can contact you online now.