Who Pays When a Driver’s Ed Student Causes a Crash?
Determining Who Pays in a Driving Student’s Car Accident
There are many ways you can spot a driver’s ed student on the road besides the telltale “Driver in Training” bumper sticker: they nervously swerve within their lanes, accelerate and brake like they have feet made of lead, go around 15 mph below or over the speed limit, and so on. You can’t really blame them for their ineptitude. After all, driving is a skill and only practice makes perfect. All of us were probably bad drivers at one point or another.
But what happens when a driver’s ed student causes an accident while practicing (alongside an instructor)? Someone has to pay for the other driver’s injuries and vehicle damages … The question is, who? Depending on the circumstances, an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit may be brought against:
- The student driver,
- The instructor, and/or
- The driving school.
When Is the Student Driver At Fault?
While student drivers are not expected to be model motorists, they are still required to drive in a reasonably safe manner on the roads and highways. This means obeying posted speed limits, yielding right-of-way correctly, obeying traffic signals and signs, and following other road laws and regulations. If a driver’s ed student causes an accident out of carelessness, he or she may be held liable for his or her negligence.
When Is the Instructor At Fault?
A driver’s ed instructor has three primary duties: to stay vigilant and watch the road for hazards, to put a stop to dangerous driving behaviors, and to intervene during an emergency. If the instructor’s failure to uphold these duties results in an accident, he or she may be held liable under a negligence theory.
For instance, if an instructor failed to prevent an accident caused by his or her student because he or she was distracted at the time (texting on the phone), the victim may seek compensation from both the student driver and the instructor.
When Is the Driving School At Fault?
In an auto accident case involving a student driver, the driving school itself may be held liable for the accident. There are multiple reasons for this. First, the school might be “vicariously liable” for the carelessness of its employees. Second, the school may have exercised negligent hiring practices. Finally, if the vehicle driven by the student was improperly maintained, then the school may be held liable for resulting damages.
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