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Car Accidents Involving the Youth

by | Oct 27, 2017 | Car Accidents

The leading cause of death for person ages 15 – 20 in the United States is traffic incidents. Teen drivers have the highest average annual incidence of vehicular collision and traffic violation over any other age group. The crash rate for 16 year-olds is 3.7 times higher than drivers of all ages. As a parent, it’s extremely devastating when your child is injured, or worse, killed in a car accident. The human brain continues to develop well past teen years, especially the frontal lobe, which is responsible for weighing risks and behaving rationally. This could be why, in addition to inexperience and other factors, the teen incidence of car crashes and traffic violations is so high. If your child has been injured in a car accident, speak with a car accident lawyer in Sacramento as you may be entitled to compensation.

Laws Specific to Young Drivers

Because teenagers are new on the road, they have very specific laws they need to adhere to. If you have any specific questions, speak with a car accident lawyer in Sacramento for legal advice. Here are some of the laws pertaining to teens in California:

Cell Phones

  • Drivers under 18 are not permitted to use handheld or hands-free cellular devices (individuals over 18 are permitted to use hands-free but not handheld cellular devices). Emergency calls are an exception.

During the first 12 months

  • New drivers who have had their license for less than 13 months are not permitted to drive between the hours of 11 PM and 5 AM
  • New drivers are also not permitted to drive individuals less than 20 years of age


  • Emancipated minors are not subject to these requirements. To be considered emancipated, the minor must have self-declared as emancipated and must have shown the DMV some proof of financial responsibility (SR1P form)
  • Medical necessity. With a signed note from a physician and when no other reasonable transportation is available, a minor may drive with exception to the above rules. The note must include diagnosis and likely recovery date.
  • School-related activity. Requires a note signed by the principal, dean, or designee.
  • Employment. Requires a note signed by employer.
  • Immediate family member. Requires a note signed by legal guardian stating the reasoning and probable end date.
  • Presence of a legal guardian, instructor, or licensed individual 25 years old or older

Other than the restrictions above, teen drivers are held to the same standards as drivers of any other age and thus may be held liable during a collision. In the state of California, legal guardians are required to sign license applications for minors, holding them equally responsible for damages caused by the young driver. The guardian or other individuals may also be held liable if a minor is given express permission to use that individual’s vehicle and ends up causing damage.

Parents without contact with their child are not usually held liable for damages the young driver makes as they are not in a position of control or influence over the driver’s behavior. Every case is unique so it’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer in Sacramento.

Comparative Fault in California

In California, shared fault in an incident is considered if a case goes to court. In these situations, the amount of fault for all individuals involved in the incident is taken into account and may affect the damages awarded. For example, if you are sideswiped by a vehicle making an unsafe lane change, but you were on your cell phone with no hands-free device at the time of the incident. Should you go all the way to court, you may be deemed to bear some percentage (e.g. 25%) of the responsibility for the incident. If damages are awarded, you will lose that percentage of the compensation (e.g. 25%).

Laws You Should Impress upon Young Drivers

It is important to talk to your young driver about California laws regarding car collisions. Be sure your young driver knows what to do in the case of a collision and how to drive safely so as to avoid causing or incurring injury or damage. It’s a good idea to specifically discuss the following California laws with your new driver:

  • Smoke-free cars and kids- It is illegal to smoke inside a car if individuals under 18 are present
  • Reckless driving – Individuals may be pulled over and charged if they display a disregard for others’ safety or property while driving.
  • Speed contests – Speed contests are prohibited by California law. A first time offender may endure a suspended or restricted license for up to 6 months, jail time of up to 90 days, as well as fines and community service.
  • Riding in the trunk – It is both illegal to ride and to allow someone to ride in the trunk of a vehicle as it has resulted in injury and death in recent years.
  • Texting and phone calls – Texting is illegal under all circumstances. Minors under 18 may not be on the phone, even with hands-free devices. Emergency calls are an exception.
  • Throwing objects from the car – Discarding any object from a moving car is a misdemeanor, and it is a felony to project objects from the car when there is intent to cause great bodily harm
  • Hit and Run – An individual may be charged with a hit-and-run even if the collision was not that person’s fault. If there is damage to property or an individual incurs an injury, it is illegal to leave the scene without exchanging or leaving behind your name and contact information.

Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento About Your Legal Needs

Has your young driver been involved in a car collision? It’s imperative you speak to a knowledgeable and experienced car accident lawyer in Sacramento to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at (916) 357-6767 for a free consultation.

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