All You Need To Know About Being Hit by a Student Driver
Humans are infallible and prone to making mistakes, even if those mistakes result in car accidents. This is especially true when it comes to learning how to drive, as accidents are bound to occur if the necessary precautions are not taken.
Things can quickly get complicated when those learning to drive (referred to as student drivers) causes a road accident while partaking in their driving lessons alongside their instructor. When that happens, who should be held responsible for the damages and injuries caused by the student driver? Is it the student driver, the driving school, or the driving instructor?
Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily a straightforward answer. Liability claims vary on the peculiarities of this type of accident, and determine if a claim is to be brought against the driving instructor, the driving school or the student driver.
Below are some examples of when each party would be liable in an accident:
When is the Student Driver at Fault?
Student drivers are not expected to be experts on the road, but they do have a certain measure of obligation to drive in a reasonably safe manner on all roads and highways.
They are expected to obey traffic signals, stop signs, speed limits, check before changing lanes, and obey other road rules. If a student driver fails to adhere to such rules, and was not driving in a reasonably safe manner as a result, they can be held liable for any injuries or damage caused by a car accident.
The lawsuit or claim brought against the student driver when seeking compensation follows the legal theory called “negligence“. This is because student drivers are expected to show the same level of care or precaution expected of regular road users.
If the student driver is uninsured, you can seek compensation directly; otherwise, you can seek compensation from their insurer if they have an insurance cover. If the student driver is a minor, which is likely the case in Maryland, you can seek compensation from their parents or guardian.
When is the Driving Instructor at Fault?
The driving instructor is the person supervising the student driver and is expected to have control of the vehicle to an extent; as such, the same laws—such as not drinking while driving or using a mobile phone—that apply to every driver are applicable to the instructor too.
The driving instructor has a duty to watch for road hazards, prevent the student driver from dangerous driving, and intervene in an emergency situation. If the instructor fails on his or her duties and an accident occurs as a result, the instructor will be held liable.
Usually, the vehicle for the driving lessons is a dual control car, which gives the driving instructor the ability to prevent accidents to some extent; for instance, a driving instructor who was distracted by their phone while their student driver ran a red light or went over the speed limit could be regarded as negligent.
Is the Driving School at Fault?
The driving school could also be held liable for an accident, as could the owner of the car used in learning to drive in cases where it is not a formal school.
When a driving school is liable for accident damages, there are three options available to use in pressing charges; namely, unthorough hiring procedure, vicarious liability, improper maintenance of vehicles.
- Unthorough Hiring Procedure: Driving schools are responsible for ensuring that their employees are both competent and law-abiding in their duties. If they employ someone who has a history of bad road practices, tickets, DUI, or has been involved in an accident caused by their reckless driving, then the driving school can be sued in the event of an accident.
- They must also ensure that their employees meet the age requirement and have the appropriate driving license needed to drive the type of car being used i.e. manual or automatic. It is also the responsibility of the driving school to ensure that the driving instructor has had their license for a specified number of years. Follow this link for more details about the basic requirements needed to become a driving instructor in Maryland.
- Vicarious Liability: Since the driving school is responsible for managing and training employees, they are “vicariously liable” for their employees’ In this regard, you could file an insurance claim against the driving school or even a personal injury lawsuit against them for the actions of a liable instructor.
- This is especially true if the employee(s) involved were either negligent or reckless and could have prevented the accident by paying more attention. Another reason this type of proceeding works is because the driving school has a legal duty to ensure proper training and management of its employees.
- Improper Maintenance of Vehicles: The cars sent out by the driving school must be well-maintained and meet the requirements for putting a car on the road or a highway. If the car has improperly maintained brakes, tire issues, engine issues, malfunctioning headlights, and the faulty car causes an accident, then you may bring a claim against the driving school.
- Improper maintenance of vehicles is also applicable if the party involved was an individual car owner. If the car used is not road-worthy, you can easily press charges because the vehicle used in teaching the student driver posed a reasonable risk that endangered other road users.
Taking Legal Action
With all these possible legal claims that could be made against the driving school, driving instructor or student driver, it could still be a little tricky trying to figure out who is responsible and the appropriate legal course of action to take. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney will enable you to understand the possible options and most importantly, ensure your legal rights are well-protected.
In the event of an accident in which you can still move, we suggest you take pictures of the accident scene, the damage that was done to the vehicles involved, and your injuries. Also, collect the insurance information of the student driver and the driving school. Finally, visit the doctor if you sustain any kind of injury. All of this evidence will come in handy when making your claims.
Contact us today for a no-strings attached consultation to discuss your possible legal options if you or a loved one is in an accident involving a student driver.