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Who Takes Responsibility After an Unlicensed Teen Injures a Pedestrian?

Unlicensed teen drivers between the age of 14-19 are four times more likely to be involved in fatal auto accidents. Many may think that it is due to distracted driving, but these accidents mainly happen due to inadequate experience. Unlicensed teens are new drivers, which makes them prone to underestimating different road scenarios. Recognizing potentially hazardous situations may be difficult for them. 

According to a report by The National Centre for Health Statistics (NCHS), about 7,904 pedestrians died in traffic and non-traffic incidents in 2020, with the highest number of pedestrian deaths being Saturdays. The majority of these incidents happen at night. Ideally, unlicensed teens have more free time and less supervision during weekend evenings and nights. But who takes the blame after an unlicensed teen injures a pedestrian?

The Unlicensed Teen Can Be Charged

Some laws dictate how a car accident with an unlicensed teen should be handled. Like other laws, violating these laws can result in an unlicensed teen being held liable for the incident. If your unlicensed teen causes injuries to a pedestrian after an accident, they could be tried as a youthful offender, which may mean a lighter penalty for the unlicensed teen.

It also means that the unlicensed teen will not have a criminal conviction on record. The charges for a youthful offender can either be parole or probation. The rules that govern paroles and probations might be difficult to live under, but it is way better than jail time. However, there are accident circumstances that cannot permit a lighter penalty. 

  • Driving under the influence of drugs and other substances.
  • Negligent driving.
  • Failing to take responsibility after causing fatal injuries or death to a pedestrian. 

The Responsible Parents Can Be Charged

Responsible adults can be charged for endangering the life of an unlicensed teen. The magnitude of these punishments is determined by whether or not the responsible adult has any legal right to care for the unlicensed teen. These charges also vary depending on the state. The penalties for responsible adults range from three to 10 years of imprisonment.

Apart from criminal charges, parents are expected to cover all injuries from a pedestrian accident caused by their unlicensed teen. The damages resulting from a pedestrian accident should not be taken lightly. They can be as fatal as those from collisions, especially because pedestrians do not have any protection. The most common pedestrian injuries that you may be required to cover after your unlicensed teen causes the crash include the following;

  1. Fractures

Fractures are the most common injuries sustained from a pedestrian car accident. Depending on the magnitude of the incident, a pedestrian can either suffer from single or multiple fractures. The most common fractures affect wrists, arms, legs, torsos, and hands. 

  1. Spinal Cord Injuries

An injured back can affect the standard functionality of the spinal cord. If a spinal cord is bruised, the weakness and numbness will be temporary. If the injuries are severe, permanent paralysis can result. A spinal cord is one of the most expensive injuries a pedestrian can sustain after an accident.

  1. Brain Injuries

The impact from the hood of a vehicle can cause severe brain injuries. Severe brain injuries are characterized by internal bleeding, which can only be detected after a thorough medical check-up. Brain injury symptoms may take a while to show. Therefore, regardless of a minor hit, it is crucial to see a medic immediately for proper assessment. While some brain injuries can be treated, some can lead to permanent brain damage.

  1. Limb Amputation

Severe pedestrian accidents can lead to a serious crush or blast wound to one of your limbs. Such injuries may call for amputation. Unlike physical injuries, whose pain can subside with time, the pain and suffering after losing a limb can take years of therapy before coming to terms with it. It is a life-altering permanent damage necessitating compensation.

How Are the Medical Expenses Covered?

The losses sustained after a pedestrian accident can either be economic or non-economic. Economic losses constitute all medical costs incurred after the accident. A monetary value can be assigned to these losses by adding all the expenses and bills associated with the accident. The economic losses include;

  • Minor and major surgeries.
  • Durable medical equipment.
  • Hospitalization.
  • Future and long-term medical care.
  • Emergency treatment expenses.
  • Therapy and rehabilitation costs.
  • Loss of wages.

Non-economic losses are the most difficult to quantify using a monetary value. Special tools have to be used by a Houston car accident lawyer to determine their worth. These losses result from emotional trauma and distress after a pedestrian accident. Emotional suffering includes;

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.

Economic and non-economic losses can be covered by filing a claim with the teen’s parents’ insurance company. However, this entirely depends on the policy coverage type and its limits. If your unlicensed teen is involved in a pedestrian accident, your insurance company can only cover you comfortably if you have these policies.

  1. Liability Insurance Policy

Liability insurance policies compensate injured victims on behalf of the policyholders. The insurance company will reimburse the injured pedestrian for all their medical expenses on your behalf. In this case, the bodily injury liability policy will cover all the personal injury bills of the victim.

A liability policy comes with limits that dictate the extent of injuries that your insurer can settle. If the victim’s medical expenses exceed your limits, you will have to pay the additional costs from your pocket.

  1. Comprehensive Insurance Policy

A comprehensive policy covers the third party, in this case, the injured pedestrian, from all possible threats. Comprehensive policies come with deductibles instead of limits. Deductibles are paid from your pocket before the insurance company settles the rest. If the cost of the pedestrian’s injuries exceeds the claim settlement and your deductible, you will have to pay the additional expenses from your pocket.

  1. Personal Injury Protection Policy

A personal injury protection policy, covers your medical expenses, those of your passengers, and the pedestrian. However, this is found in most no-fault states only. Depending on the terms of the policy, some also cover a pedestrian’s expenses beyond the medical costs, such as survivor benefits, loss of income, and funeral costs.

Major Causes of Pedestrian Accidents with Unlicensed Teens

The inexperience of unlicensed teen drivers makes driving very dangerous. Teen drivers, licensed or not, could easily get into an accident within the first six to 12 months of driving on their own. The most critical errors that lead to pedestrian accidents with unlicensed teens include the following;

Speeding. Ideally, teens are thrill lovers. When they get an unsupervised opportunity with a vehicle, they take this as a chance to put their driving skills to the test. Speeding is rampant among male teen drivers.

Distracted driving. In this era, most teens cannot last a minute without reaching out for their phones. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission shows that one in three teens text while driving. Texting while driving increases your teen’s risk of getting into an accident by 23 times.

Underestimating road scenarios. The inexperience of unlicensed teen drivers can cause them to react slowly to certain road situations that need a quick reaction, leading to a crash. For example, applying the wrong pressure to the brakes when approaching a zebra crossing can cause a pedestrian accident.

Drunk driving. Adult drivers are more likely to drink and drive than teen drivers. However, if left unsupervised, teen drivers can drive while intoxicated, resulting in a substantially risky crash.

Role of Parents In Minimizing Pedestrian Accidents With Unlicensed Teens

Parents must understand that their teens are not ready to bear the same driving responsibility as adult drivers. They are prone to slight errors that could result in massive fatalities. To ensure your teen’s safety when driving, do not hand the car keys to them unless they have gone through a three-stage graduated driver licensing system. This system limits high-risk teen driving situations by 50%. Ensure that they also grasp the driver licensing laws, as they will lay a good driving foundation for them. 

As a parent, hold talks with your teen about drunk driving. Tell them about the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and other substances and the state’s legal consequences if found guilty. For such talks to be practical, you have to lead by example. You cannot tell your teen not to drive while drunk, yet you drive while intoxicated under their watch.

When your teen is learning how to drive, do not solely rely on the driver’s education. Find the time and take your teen for some practice sessions. Use this time to instill additional driving skills, things you have learned from experience aside from what they learn in class. 


Pedestrian accidents happen frequently. But when your unlicensed teen is involved, the situation could be more alarming. If your unlicensed teen is involved in a pedestrian accident, hire a car accident lawyer immediately. Contact a Houston car accident lawyer today for proper legal representation.