I Was Hit By an Underage Drunk Driver: What Are My Legal Options?
Drunk driving is a leading cause of car accidents in the United States. Another common contributor to collisions is inexperience. When those factors are combined, the effects can be catastrophic. Despite the legal drinking age being 21, it is not uncommon for teens to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel while intoxicated.
Individuals hit by an underage drunk driver often wonder about their legal options. A minor cannot be sued, but there are ways for individuals to pursue compensation for drunk driving accident damages. The lawyers at Foley Law Firm work with injury victims in Scranton, Stroudsburg, and Wilkes-Barre, PA, to determine the best course of legal action following a drunk driving accident involving an underage driver.
Criminal vs. Civil Cases
Driving under the influence is a crime. When an underage driver causes a crash while intoxicated, they are likely to face criminal charges. Criminal charges may result in punishments such as fines, incarceration, and driver's license suspension. Criminal cases are completely separate from civil cases. A criminal case does not address the damages suffered by drunk driving accident victims or award compensation for injury losses.
To pursue compensation for injury damages after a drunk driving accident, individuals must file a civil claim. Drivers under the age of 18 are minors and cannot be sued. However, accident victims can pursue compensation through the driver’s insurance policy. In rare circumstances, accident victims can consider a lawsuit against the minor’s parents.
Filing an Insurance Claim
An insurance claim, or a civil claim filed against an underage driver’s insurance company, is often the most effective way to obtain appropriate compensation for drunk driving accident damages. All drivers are legally required to carry insurance from the first day they get their license. Most teens are covered by policies that fall under their parent’s insurance policy. Filing a claim against an underage driver’s insurance company is the same as any other car accident claim process.
Our lawyers start a claim process by investigating to determine accident liability. We collect further evidence to ascertain the types and amounts of accident losses. Damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Once our lawyers calculate the damages due to our clients, we send a notice to the insurance company. If an appropriate settlement is not reached after negotiations with the insurance company, a claim is filed in court.
Suing the Underage Driver’s Parents
In some situations, it is appropriate to sue an underage driver’s parents rather than filing an insurance claim. A civil claim against the underage driver’s parents may be appropriate if the underage driver is uninsured or if the parents knowingly allowed their child to drive after they demonstrated they were a danger to others.
Request a Consultation
If you have been injured in a drunk driving accident involving an underage driver, the lawyers at Foley Law Firm would be happy to review your case and advise you of your legal options. To discuss the details of your crash with our legal team, request a consultation online at your earliest convenience.