You hear the squeal of tires and the crunch of metal as your car and another collide. The dust settles and you collect yourself. You get out of your car to exchange information with the other driver.
That’s when you realize that the other driver is just a teenager. She doesn’t even have a driver’s license… only a learner’s permit.
A learner’s permit and provisional driver’s license, known in Massachusetts as a Junior Operator License (JOL), allow teens to hone their driving skills under the supervision of a licensed adult driver. When they’ve completed all training requirements, they can apply for an unrestricted driver’s license.
The goal of a provisional driver’s license is to keep teens, and the people who share the road with them, safe. Did you know that new teenage drivers are two times likelier to be in a fatal car crash than adults? That’s not counting the deaths of passengers, pedestrians, or operators of other cars, either.
With odds like these, it’s a matter of when, not if a teen driver will get into a car accident on a learner’s permit. When a new driver gets into an accident, what happens?
Massachusetts Learner’s Permit Restrictions
Learner’s permits have important restrictions that young Massachusetts drivers must obey. Most importantly, an adult must be in the car with them at all times. The adult must be 21 or older and have had a driver’s license for at least a year. The adult must sit in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.
In addition, JOL holders may not drive between midnight and 5:00 am unless a parent or legal guardian is with them. Depending on the other state’s laws, young drivers may not be able to drive outside of Massachusetts using a learner’s permit.
What to Do in An Accident
You can treat an accident with a teen driver on a learner’s permit like any other car accident. Call the police, exchange information with the other driver, document the damage and get yourself checked out for any injuries. Report the accident to your car insurance company as soon as you can.
There will be consequences for the young driver if they were breaking the rules of their learner’s permit. The violation we see most often is teens driving alone, without a licensed adult or parent in the car with them.
Consequences for Junior Operators
Massachusetts law imposes harsh penalties on junior operator violations. Unaccompanied teen drivers will face a permit suspension of up to one year and will have to pay a $100 fee to reinstate the permit.
Junior operators who drive recklessly or who endanger others with their negligence will be required to pay fines up to $500. They may also have to take additional driver safety training in order to get their license back.
Can Parents Be Held Liable?
If a teen’s car accident causes major damage or injury, the parents of the driver may be held liable. However, in order to sue the parents of a junior operator for damages, you will have to prove that the parents’ negligence contributed to the teen’s car accident.
One example of this might be that they knew their child was a bad driver or had a history of driving recklessly, but did nothing to stop him from getting behind the wheel. This concept is known as negligent entrustment.
Driving Without Insurance
If the teen gets into an accident driving a parent’s car and they are not covered under their parents’ auto insurance policy, the insurance may refuse to pay for the claim. If this happened, the parents could be held financially responsible. They would be forced to pay for property damage and medical costs out of their own personal assets.
Got More Questions? Ask A Worcester Car Accident Attorney
With over 30 years of experience helping Worcester car accident victims get the compensation they deserve, car accident attorney Peter Ventura has the expertise you need to resolve your personal injury claim swiftly and fairly. Are you interested in learning more about legal representation for a car accident injury? Please contact us now to discuss your options. Your first consultation is always free.