Who Is Responsible for Accidents With Student Drivers?

Everyone who is currently on the road had to learn how to drive at some point. Teens do not automatically become experts in driving on the day they turn 16. It takes learning, practice, and some trial and error to safely operate a motor vehicle and feel comfortable behind the wheel. Although driver’s education courses and contained practice areas aim to maximize the safety of others during new driver training, accidents can still occur. Accidents involving student drivers could come down to the liability of the student, his or her parents, the driving instructor, or another party.

The Parents

Tennessee is a fault insurance state – the insurance company of the at-fault driver will cover damages. Student drivers do not yet have their driver’s licenses. They also (typically) do not have vehicle insurance. Thus, after a driver’s education student crashes into you, you would most likely file an accident claim with the student’s parent’s insurance company, rather than the individual student.

The student may have negligently caused your accident, but it will be his or her parents who will take the legal fault. Every parent of a student driver has a responsibility to add that student to the family’s auto insurance plan once he or she starts driving a vehicle. Failing to add a child as a covered driver could be an infraction, and the parents’ insurance company may have to pay for your losses anyway.

The Teacher

It may also be possible to bring a claim against the driver’s education instructor – the individual riding in the car with the student driver. Driving teachers have a responsibility to reasonably ensure the safety of their pupils. While an instructor may not always be able to prevent an accident, he or she should at least fulfill the duties of the role.

  • Train a driver how to operate the vehicle safely
  • Prepare a driver for potential crash scenarios
  • Take reasonable steps to prevent an accident
  • Intervene during an emergency

An instructor’s negligent failure to prevent a student driver accident could end in his or her liability for victims’ damages. The instructor may be individually responsible, or if the instructor worked for a school or company, the employer could carry vicarious liability. The employer will be liable for the actions of on-duty instructors.

A Driving School

You may have grounds to bring a claim against a driving school if that school or one of its employees contributed to the accident. If, for example, the school provided the vehicle but failed to properly maintain it, and a part malfunction caused an accident, the school could be responsible for damages. The city of Nashville may be your defendant if the student driver was part of a public school. Otherwise, you may have a case against a private business owner.

A driving school might be responsible for your damages if it was careless or negligent in hiring unfit instructors or properly training them. The school could also be liable if the instructor was an employee and contributed to the crash. An instructor guilty of coming to work drunk, for example, would lead to the schools’ vicarious liability for a resultant car accident. Going up against a driving school can be difficult without help from an attorney, as most establishments have resources to combat claims.

Determining Liability

If you are curious who is legally responsible for your recent accident involving a student driver, talk to an attorney. A law firm can send investigators to the scene of the accident to determine fault. Your attorney can let you know if the student driver, instructor, driving school, and/or another party should be liable. Then, your lawyer can take care of the claims process on your behalf.