After passing their driving test, teenagers in Louisiana are overwhelmed with a great sense of freedom. But with this freedom comes significant responsibility. Teenagers often overlook the care that driving demands and the serious repercussions that can follow from a car accident, like a wrongful death suit.
Statistics released by the Governors Highway Safety Association speak to the issues raised by teen drivers. One statistic is particularly alarming: Louisiana is one of the states with the highest number of teenaged-driver deaths. Sadly, there were double-digit losses of teenage drivers in 2012. There are not many other states that have reported such a high number of deaths. Indiana, Arizona, Kentucky and Louisiana's neighboring states of Tennessee and Alabama made the list.
Sometimes driver deaths result from single-vehicle accidents. These accidents leave little question about liability. In other situations, more than one vehicle may be involved in an accident caused by a teen driver. And, it may be the other drivers and passengers that die in the accident. In these cases, the family members of the accident victim may have options to recover for the loss of a loved one.
Louisiana law allows the victim's family members to not only pursue a civil case against the teenager, who is the alleged negligent driver, but also the teen's parents. This is because Louisiana recognizes parental vicarious liability. One specific section of the Louisiana Civil Code provides that parents can be liable for the acts of a minor child, so long as the child has not been emancipated. It is often appealing to include a teen's parents in a lawsuit, since they may have better means to pay a judgment.
There are a lot of considerations for teen drivers. Not only must they keep in mind their own safety, but they should also consider the impact that their driving may have on their parents.
Source: Andalusia Star News, "Teen driver deaths up in Bama," Stephanie Nelson, Feb. 27, 2013