According to the CDC, the risk of motor vehicle crashes is highest among teens aged 16 to 19. In fact, the fatal crash rate per mile for this age group is almost three times the rate for drivers who are age 20 or older.
The above is why teaching teenagers to drive requires hours and hours of training and supervision. In Michigan, every teenager must go through the Graduated Driver Licensing process before they are allowed to carry a license. In addition, the law requires the parent (or guardian) to certify that the teen has spent a minimum of 50 hours behind the wheel, including 10 hours at night.
The Graduated Driver Licensing process has three levels:
- a supervised learner’s license (Level 1 License),
- an intermediate license that limits passengers and unsupervised driving at night (Level 2 License), and
- a full-privilege driver’s license (Level 3 License).
Teen drivers under the Graduated Driver Licensing program are placed on probation for a minimum of three years. During this period, the Secretary of State monitors the driving performance of new drivers. Moreover, every traffic violation will be entered on record, and tickets issued may lead to warning letters or driver assessment reexamination.
Teenage drivers must complete the last ten (10) months of probation without traffic convictions, at-fault crashes, or suspensions. If the driver gets involved in an unsafe driving event, then the probationary period is extended until the driver completes 10 consecutive months without incident.
Teenage drivers must obey traffic rules, avoid texting, and never drink and drive to enjoy full driving privileges from a Level 3 license. With a higher crash involvement rate, it is important to understand parental liability for anyone with a young driver.
What Is Owner Liability?
Under Michigan law, the owner of a vehicle is responsible for any injury caused by the negligent operation of that vehicle – regardless of who is driving it. In the case of teenage drivers, if a young person driving their parent’s car causes a crash, both teenager and parent are liable. Michigan’s auto insurance law only makes an exception if the vehicle was taken without permission from the owner.
However, if the driver is an immediate family member, Michigan law presumes that the person had permission from the owner of the vehicle. Therefore, if a teenage driver took their parent’s car, even without permission, the parent could still be liable in case of a crash.
What Is Negligent Entrustment?
Another legal concept that parents have to be aware of is negligent entrustment. Under Michigan law, negligent entrustment is when the owner of a vehicle allows a person to drive the said vehicle even when the person is not a safe driver. Therefore, allowing a teenager with an unsafe driving record to operate the vehicle can ultimately lead to parental liability.
When To Tell Your Insurance Provider About Your Teenage Driver
When teaching a teenager how to drive, parents also need to have a conversation with their insurance provider. The vehicle for practice driving must have proper no-fault insurance coverage to cover the driver in case of an accident. While insurance companies may have different timeline requirements for notifying them when a teenager starts to drive the vehicle, it is recommended that parents notify the auto insurance company as soon as the teenager gets behind the wheel.
Should I Hire an Attorney in Case of a Car Accident?
The simple answer is yes. Immediately after a teenage driver gets involved in an accident, the parent must call a lawyer to help gather information and facilitate a thorough investigation. A car accident lawyer not only represents the driver in court but also helps find potential witnesses, asses the vehicle, and even take photographs of the scene of the accident which could be valuable down the road. The longer you wait to call an attorney, the harder it will be to locate witnesses and obtain video from nearby cameras.
Here at The Clark Law Office, we can help you learn more about your rights. You can talk to any auto accident attorney for free, and we’ll give you an honest evaluation of your case and advise you on what to do next. If you decide to hire us, we will immediately begin working on the case involving your teenage driver. Call us today at (517)-347-6900 to book your free initial consult or email firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.