Car accidents are on the rise, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The NHTSA estimates that over 38,000 people were killed in car accidents in 2020 alone – the largest number projected since 2007. A substantial amount of car accidents each year involve teenage drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 20. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a teenage driver in this age group is nearly three times as likely to be in a fatal car crash.
Being involved in a car accident can be catastrophic for the victims. It can leave them dealing with shock, physical injuries, emotional distress, and grief. Extensive medical expenses, including hospital stays, rehabilitation, scans, medical treatment, and follow up visits are common needs after an accident. If your injuries left you temporarily or permanently debilitated, you may not be able to return to work right away, or ever, which limits your income on top of piling medical bills.
If you were involved in a car accident with a teenage driver at the wheel, you have rights to compensation. The Washington D.C. car accident lawyers at Regan Zambri Long have over 100 years of combined experience and a longstanding track record of securing millions for their clients. Contact them today for a free consultation and allow the experienced auto accident attorneys to handle the claims process for you while you focus on a full recovery.
Are teens drivers really worse than adult drivers?
According to CBS News, teenagers are actually more skillful drivers than adults, but were still more likely to be involved in fatal car accidents. The study showed that teens who are involved in sports have quicker reaction times and better peripheral vision, which is key to seeing what is happening on either side of the vehicle. The study also found that teens who play video games were not any better than the average driver.
Even though the teen driving statistics study found that teen drivers are generally more skillful than adult drivers, it is their inexperience and the inattention to safety considerations that make them statistically more unsafe on the road. Since they don’t have experience in different driving situations, it makes it more difficult for them to handle and react efficiently to challenges that come up. Distracted driving and speeding play a major role in the teen car accidents in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and across the United States.
What are the causes of teen driving accidents?
While there are several reasons car accidents involving teen drivers occur, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the main causes behind teen car crashes:
Teens are more likely to underestimate, or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. They are also more likely to make poor decisions and errors that can lead to serious car accidents. Teen drivers may overcorrect or not know how to react to certain situations on the road, which can lead to a car crash and serious injury.
Distracted driving is when a driver does anything which takes attention away from the road. This can be eating, putting on makeup, talking to a passenger, and switching music on the radio. The biggest culprit using a cell phone while driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reading a text message can take about five seconds. For a driver going 55mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed. It increases the chance of a car cash for a teenager by 23 times.
Over 3,000 deaths occurred in 2019 directly due to distracted driving. Unfortunately this is a major problem for all age groups, however, when combined with inexperience, it creates a deadly combination.
Young drivers are more likely to speed and to tailgate, which is an extremely dangerous combination. In 2019, speeding was a factor in 27% of the fatal car crashes involving teens (15-18 years old). Speeding makes it harder to slow down the vehicle when there are sudden stops, and harder to control the vehicle when maneuvering through traffic. Speeding also decreases the effectiveness of the protective equipment in the car, such as seatbelts and airbags.
Alcohol and Drug Use
No one, no matter what age, should get behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcohol. Teen drivers have a higher risk of being involved in a car accident than older drivers with the same blood alcohol content. In 2018, 15% of teenage drivers (16-20) who were involved in fatal car crashes had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher – a level that is illegal for adults aged 21 or older.
Nighttime and Weekend Driving
In 2019, 40% of car accidents involving teen drivers occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday between 9pm and 6am. Teenagers curfews are usually later on weekends, while high school parties, which can have heavy drinking, occur on the weekends.
What are some driving safety tips for teens and parents of teens in Washington D.C.?
- Practice safe driving habits and obey the state and local laws, including the following the speed limit.
- Always buckle up and insist your passengers buckle up, as well. Teen passengers who don’t wear seat belts during a car crash are more likely to sustain fatal injuries.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Do not use drugs and drive.
- Mentally plan your route before you get behind the wheel of the car so you can navigate more easily.
- Let your parents or guardians know where you are going at all times.
- Focus on the road only. Your cell phone, text messages and social media can wait until your car is safely in park.
- Set good examples for your young driver by obeying the traffic laws of your state and locality, including following the speed limits and wearing a seat belt.
- In Washington D.C., unless otherwise stated, the speed limit is 20 mph.
- Spend time in the car with your teen for in-car training when they have their learner’s permit and before you allow them on the road by themselves.
- Provide or encourage your teen to drive safe cars, especially for their first year of driving. Make sure their car gets inspected on the proper dates.
- Don’t be afraid to give your teen constructive criticism of their driving. Remain calm as the passenger and keep your temper in check.
- Set realistic goals, expectations, and consequences for your new teen driver.
- Remind your teen that driving is a privilege and a hefty responsibility. It is not a right. If your teen displays irresponsible behavior, make it known that his or her driving privileges can easily be revoked.
Can parents be held responsible for their teen’s car accident in DC?
There are several factors to holding parents responsible for their teen’s car crash. Many times, teenagers use their parents’ cars in the first months or years of driving. This means they are covered under their parents’ auto insurance. If the teen is involved in a car crash, the claim will be against the policy that covers the parents’ car. Additionally, if a teen gets his own car after obtaining a license, then he or she is required to carry auto insurance as per Washington D.C. law. If that is the case, then you would file a claim against the insurance company that covers the teen’s car.
Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland have a law called Negligent Entrustment of a Motor Vehicle. Negligent Entrustment is when Party 1 (in this case, Party 1 would be the parents of the teen who caused the car crash) is held liable for the negligence of Party 2 (in this case, Party 2 would be the teen who caused the accident) because Party 1 provided the device or instrument which Party 2 harmed the victim. In layman’s terms, if a parent knew their teen had an alcohol problem, but still offered their car for the weekend and the teen caused a car accident while driving that car, the Negligent Entrustment Law would allow the victim to file a claim against the parent.
This law requires experienced accident lawyers by the victim’s side. The car accident attorneys at Regan Zambri Long know the ins and outs D.C. law and various insurance company policies. They will be able to guide you through the claims process and make the determination of who should be held responsible for the car accident. Call today to set up a consultation with a DC teen car accident lawyer.
What should I do after being involved in a car accident in Washington D.C.?
Being in an accident is scary and shocking. Here are seven steps to follow right after the accident occurs.
The most important thing to do following an auto accident is to inform the police. They will help navigate traffic away from your car and be able to coordinate medical attention to anyone who needs it. The responding officers will begin the investigation as soon as medical needs are met, interviewing witnesses and taking statements from both drivers.
You should cooperate with the police at all times and never leave the accident scene until the police officer says it’s okay to go. If the other driver tries to persuade you not to call the police, do not listen. Do not take money from the other driver, as this can hinder your chances to seek compensation.
Once the medical needs of you and your passengers are taken care of, begin to assess the damages done to your vehicle. Take pictures and video and keep them safe. Take note of any aches and pains you feel following the accident. Finally, notice any damage done to your possessions that were inside the car during the accident.
This information includes the make, model, and license plate number of the vehicle that caused the accident. You will also need the other driver’s full contact information, including their full name, phone number, and address. Exchange insurance information, as well. If the other driver refuses to give the information, do not worry and do not pressure them to do so. The responding police officer will have all the information you need and put it in the police report.
Document everything related to the accident, including medical records and bills, and witness testimony. Keep records and receipts of vehicle repairs and replacement. Finally, take mental note of any physical pain and emotional stress in the aftermath of the accident.
Get Medical Help:
If you suffered injuries during the accident, get assessed by a doctor immediately and then follow all the orders, including treatment, prescriptions, and follow up appointments. Keep a detailed record of all expenses. To file a personal injury claim for any losses or injuries suffered from a motor vehicle accident you need to make sure that you keep a record of medical bills.
Report the Accident to Your Insurance Provider:
Call your provider and tell them about the accident. Tell them only the information necessary and do not speak to an insurance adjuster without contacting a DC accident lawyer first.
Contact a Regan Zambri Long DC Car Accident Lawyer:
Insurance companies are notorious for offering the lowest settlement possible to the victims of car accidents. A Regan Zambri Long teen car accident lawyer is expert in negotiating to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible. Even if you think the initial settlement your insurance company offers is enough, you never know what can happen down the line. Injuries can worsen over time and healthcare is expensive.
The Regan Zambri Long car accident attorneys will negotiate the highest settlement possible so you don’t carry the burden of financial distress while you’re trying to heal from the motor vehicle crash.
Frequently Asked Questions about Teen Driving Accidents
What are the most common types of injuries that occur from a teen auto accident?
- Soft tissue damage (when muscles, tendons, and ligaments are damaged from the car accident.)
- Chest injuries
- Neck/back injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Internal bleeding
What is the difference between a settlement and a verdict?
A settlement happens when the insurance companies agree to pay the fair compensation to the victim of a car accident. However, this doesn’t always happen. Insurance companies will designate an insurance adjuster to your case and an insurance adjuster’s job is to save money.
This is where a Regan Zambri Long car accident attorney can help. Your attorney will negotiate with the adjuster on your behalf, using the years of knowledge in D.C. law and insurance policies. While it would be harder for you to make your case with an adjuster, the Regan Zambri Long car accident attorney will use the evidence from the police report and your own records to secure the proper compensation.
The accident lawyer will also prepare your claim for trial right away. If your claim goes to trial, you will receive a verdict instead of a settlement. Regan Zambri Long has the financial backing to take on large insurance companies and court cases so you can rest assured your attorney will be by your side every step of the way.
What kind of damages can I collect from a car accident claim?
There are three different types of damages you can collect from your claim. The first is economic damages. This type of payment is for medical expenses, lost wages, and future wages you may lose due to ongoing injuries.
The second type is non economic damages, which include pain and suffering, emotional trauma and anguish, social standing, and mental hardships.
The final type of damages you can collect from a D.C. car accident claim are punitive damages. Punitive damages are broken into three different categories:
- This is when someone does something they’re not supposed to do, such as text and drive, and causes harm to someone else.
- This is when someone does something, or fails to do something and has extreme disregard for the safety of others. For example, when a teen driver speeds up even though there are pedestrians all around is grossly negligent.
Willful and wanton negligence:
- This is when someone does something knowing that it will probably result in the harm of someone else.
What does Contributory Negligence mean and will it affect my case?
Washington D.C. is one of the five jurisdictions in the country that still use the Contributory Negligence law. This law states that if the plaintiff (the person who filed the claim against the reckless driver) is responsible in any way for the accident, then a claim for compensation cannot be filed. This law applies in Virginia and Maryland, as well. Regan Zambri Long car accident lawyers offer free consultations to prospective clients. Call (202)960-4746 today and learn how a teen accident lawyer at Regan Zambri Long can help.
What are other common causes of car accidents?
Unfortunately, teenagers aren’t the only drivers who are involved in accidents around Washington D.C. Some of the other common causes of accidents, for any D.C. age group, are:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Reckless/careless/aggressive driving
- Drowsy driving
- Poor weather/road conditions
- Vehicle defects
The personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long can assist in these several types of car accidents. If you have been involved in a car accident due to any of the reasons listed above, contact a Regan Zambri Long personal injury lawyer today for a free case evaluationDC.
How quickly do I need to file a car accident claim?
The Washington, DC Statute of Limitations to file a claim for a car accident is up to three years. Outside that window, you will most likely not be able to recover any damages for the claim. Speak with a Regan Zambri Long car accident attorney today to assess your car accident case and file a claim quickly and efficiently to recover the maximum amount of compensation possible.