The purpose of getting a Learner’s permit in Pennsylvania is to help new drivers gain experience behind the wheel and confidence on the road. The more practice young drivers get, the safer they will be when they finally obtain their licenses.
In the meantime, what happens if a driver’s ed student with a learner’s permit causes a crash? How do the injured victims in this type of accident recover compensation for their damages?
Schmidt Kramer discusses crashes with driver’s ed students, including who may be liable for your damages.
Were you injured in a car crash with a driver’s ed student? Contact our law offices to get answers to your legal questions and find out if you may have a claim. There is no cost for this meeting and no obligation to hire our services. Our Harrisburg vehicle crash attorneys are experienced and ready to help.
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Can Student Drivers Be Liable for a Crash?
While student drivers carrying learner’s permits are obviously not experienced, they can still be held liable if they cause a crash. That said, it is important to point out that they will not be automatically liable simply because they are a new driver. As with any accident, the crash will be thoroughly investigated to determine who was at fault.
When a Student Driver With a Learner Permit May Be Liable
It is expected that new drivers are bound to make mistakes. Unfortunately, these mistakes may sometimes lead to a collision. Driving errors caused by inexperience are one thing. However, investigators will also consider other factors that may have contributed to the crash, such as whether the driver was:
- Reckless or careless behavior behind the wheel
- Texting or otherwise driving while distracted
- Driving aggressively, such as by following other vehicles too closely
- Ignoring traffic signals or traffic lights; failing to yield the right of way
- Violating traffic laws, such as speeding/exceeding posted speed limits
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
What if the Student Does Not Adhere to Pennsylvania Learner’s Permit Laws
Student drivers are required to know and follow all the restrictions of the Learner’s Permit. This includes, in addition to following traffic laws, not driving alone. Student drivers must always be accompanied by an appropriate driver, as defined under the law. This includes a parent, guardian or spouse who is 18 years or older and has a valid license. Other adults may accompany a student driver, but only if they have a valid driver’s license and are 21 years or older.
Drivers with learner’s permits in Pennsylvania may also not driving at night or between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. (except for getting to/from work).
If a student driver caused a crash because of negligence, violating a traffic law or not following the Learner’s permit restrictions, he or she may be held liable.
Could the Driving Instructor Be Negligent if a Student Wrecks the Car?
If the student was taking a lesson when the crash occurred, then the instructor may be deemed partially responsible, even if the student was violating a traffic law.
Instructors have a responsibility to stay focused on the road and what the student driver is doing at all times. That way, the instructor can immediately address the error with the student. If a driver’s ed. student is violating a traffic law in some way, such as by following another car too closely or driving too fast, the instructor should take appropriate steps to avoid a collision. Additionally, most driving school vehicles are equipped with dual controls, allowing the instructor take over in emergency situations.
Can Driving Schools Be Liable for a Crash During a Lesson?
The answer to this question is maybe. As with any traffic accident, your attorney will need to look at the unique circumstances and events leading up to the crash.
For instance, how well did the driving school check out the background of the instructor? If the school hired an instructor who had a history of driving tickets, then it could be at least partially liable for the damages. Driving schools are required to do thorough background checks on candidates they consider hiring to instruct new drivers.
What if Poor Maintenance Led to the Crash?
If poor maintenance caused the crash, it will be necessary to find out who is responsible for servicing the car. If it is the school, then they could be held liable for the damages, but only if a lack of maintenance contributed to or caused the crash. If it turns out that maintenance was done on the vehicle but the part was defective, the manufacturer could be liable.
What Insurance May Apply If a Student Driver Caused Your Crash?
Pennsylvania is different from most states, because they are both a “no fault” and “at fault” state. What this means after a crash is your medical costs from a car crash are covered by your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. That said, there are damages that your PIP insurance will not cover, such as lost wages. To obtain compensation for additional damages, you will need to file a third party personal injury claim against the liable party.
If the student driver was operating a vehicle provided by the driving school, then your damages should be covered under the policy for that vehicle.
Depending on how liability is assessed, you may be able to seek compensation from insurance carried by one or more of the following parties:
- Driving school
- Driving instructor
- Other driver’s involved in the crash
Call Schmidt Kramer for Legal Help After a Car Crash
There is often a lot of confusion following any type of car crash. When it involves a student driver with a learner’s permit, the claim is more complicated. Working with a knowledgeable attorney could greatly benefit your claim and optimize your chances of getting the full and fair compensation you need.
Call our law offices today, or anytime, night or day. We always have staff available to take your call.
Not sure if you can afford the cost of hiring an attorney? No problem. We take injury cases on contingency. What that means is that you do not pay us up front. We also do not get any payment for our services unless we win your case.
Proven Results. Call (717) 727-1403 today.