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Q: My teenage son was involved in a car crash on I-81 last night. He’s been driving under a junior driver’s license for five months. He had another teen passenger in the car with him. My son and his girlfriend had minor injuries, and there was extensive dama

A:

We are very sorry to hear about the injuries suffered by all parties in this accident, and we wish everyone a speedy and quick recovery.

Most law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania are diligent and competent investigators. We feel confident in saying that they will not automatically assume your son was the responsible party in this accident just because of his age. However, it’s quite possible the fact that your son was a teenager with limited experience as a driver will color their investigations and their report about the accident.

Police know that studies have shown teen drivers are about four times more likely than adult drivers to be at fault for an auto accident in Pennsylvania. Now, that’s an interesting statistic, but it proves nothing about any particular case. One must approach the investigation into a traffic accident with an open mind, and not leap to a conclusion based only on statistical trends.

From the tone of your question, and the fact that you’re contacting us, we believe that you’ve spoken to your son (and possibly his girlfriend) and that he has convinced you he’s not responsible for last night’s car collision on I-81. If the other driver was negligent or reckless on the road, then he—and his insurance company—might be responsible for compensating your son and his passenger for their injuries, property damage, and other losses. If you have been thinking along those lines, we have a few reminders for you:

  • Make sure your son gets a complete physical evaluation. In addition to the “minor injuries” you know about, he may have experienced hidden damage that will not reveal itself until days or weeks have passed. It’s best to rule out those injuries now, or else find them while they can still be treated.
  • Tell your son to avoid talking about the accident. He doesn’t want to say something to an insurance adjuster or even to a friend that could be taken as an admission of responsibility. Even posting “I’m feeling OK” on social media can be misconstrued as meaning he suffered no harm from the accident.
  • Get a copy of the police report(s) for the accident. Depending on who arrived at the scene, you may need to contact local police, Pennsylvania State Police, or a county sheriff’s office. The police report may tell you whether the adult driver appeared intoxicated or which party the police believed to be at fault. A police report is not the last word in assigning blame, but it can be useful in preparing a legal case.
  • Contact a trustworthy Pennsylvania trial lawyer. A car crash attorney can conduct a thorough investigation into the case and determine whether it makes sense for your son to seek a damage claim against the adult driving the other vehicle.

Call the legal offices of Schmidt Kramer today at 717-888-8888 locally or 888-476-0807 toll-free to schedule a free and confidential review of your son’s case. At the same time, request a FREE copy of our client book, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident?, which we will gladly send you at our expense.