One driver was killed and another was taken to an area hospital following a three-vehicle accident on Monday, June 26th in Johnston County. Reports show that the collision occurred at around 2:45 p.m. on US Highway 70 in the area of Financial Drive, by the entrance to the Clayton Walmart.
Am I able to file a lawsuit for damages against a minor?
The Clayton Police Chief stated that a minor was driving a 2005 Toyota Camry in the eastbound lefthand lane where, according to numerous eyewitnesses, he and the driver of a Dodge Ram were driving aggressively at high rates of speed.
The 17-year-old boy driving the Camry then collided with a 2017 Toyota Rav4, which overturned and crashed into a 2023 Honda CRV that was stopped at the intersection of Financial Drive, waiting to turn eastbound onto US 70.
The Rav4 driver, Joan Ann Drake, 63 and a resident of Clayton, died at the scene.
The teen driver sustained a non-life-threatening injury and was transported by paramedics to WakeMed. From there he was transferred to WakeMed Pediatrics.
The 26-year-old woman driving the sustained minor injuries.
The drivers were the sole occupants of their respective vehicles.
This accident is under investigation by Clayton Police who have said that charges are pending.
One of the primary contributing factors to North Carolina car accidents is driver inexperience. In 2021, roughly 18% of all reported traffic accidents involved at least one teen driver.
According to North Carolina law, a minor under 18 cannot be sued directly. However, children only need to be 15 to get their learner’s permit and may begin driving on their own at 16 and six months. So, what happens when a minor driver causes a car accident? Who pays for your hospital bills and other damages? What can you do if the minor’s insurer refuses to offer a just settlement?
Fortunately, you still have rights and a viable path to recovering financial compensation. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a North Carolina car accident, the North Carolina car accident attorneys at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help you prove fault and secure full and fair financial compensation. Call our personal injury law firm today and schedule your free case evalutaion.
Who is Liable for Damages in a Car Accident Caused by a Minor?
Since they must be at least 15 years old, teenage drivers are presumed capable of committing negligence and can therefore be held liable for damages they cause. However, this does not mean you can sue a teenage driver directly, or that the teen is who will ultimately be paying for your damages.
In most instances, the child’s parents or a legal guardian is responsible for covering any damages caused by a minor driver through their insurance company.
Filing a Claim Against a Minor Driver’s Insurance
Teen drivers who only have their learner’s permit are automatically covered by their parent’s insurance. Once a minor driver receives their limited provisional license, meaning they are at least 16, they will be required to show proof of liability insurance coverage.
Fortunately, most car accident claims are settled without the injured party having to file a lawsuit. If it is obvious that the minor driver caused the accident, and you have strong evidence that proves your damages, you will most likely be able to settle your case without involving the court.
Filing a Claim Against Under the Family Purpose Doctrine
If the insurance company representing the minor driver simply refuses to pay an equitable settlement, you might still be able to bring a suit against the vehicle’s owner, normally the minor’s parents, under the Family Purpose Doctrine.
Under ordinary circumstances, in North Carolina, a plaintiff would not be permitted to file a lawsuit of any kind against a child, nor would they be permitted to sue one person for the negligence of another. The Family Purpose Doctrine creates an exception to this rule by making it possible, under certain circumstances, for a plaintiff to file a claim against a vehicle’s owner following a car accident that was caused by a driver other than the owner, such as:
- The driver is a member of the household, a member of the family, or lives in the same house. This applies to everyone, not just children.
- The vehicle’s owner maintained and provided the car for the general convenience and use of household members.
- The vehicle was operated with the implied or express permission of the owner when the accident occurred.
For example, if an underage driver borrowed his parent’s car with their permission and he or she rear-ends another vehicle, their parents could be held responsible for any injuries or damages resulting from the crash.
However, if an underage driver took a car from a relative who does not live in the same home without their permission and he or she rear-ends another vehicle, the relative would not be liable.
Were You Involved in a Car Accident With a Minor Driver?
If you were injured or lost a family member in a car accident that was caused by a minor driver, it is important that you talk to an experienced lawyer who can explain your rights and how you can protect them in this complex situation. If you would like to schedule a free case review with an experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyer, please call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp at (833) 997-1774. We can give you the guidance and advice you need to collect just compensation for your injuries.