What Happens If You Get in an Accident With a Permit in California?

Young and inexperienced drivers commonly cause car accidents in California. New drivers lack the hands-on experience to drive as safely or prudently as older drivers. They also tend to overestimate their driving capabilities, increasing the risk of mistakes such as multitasking behind the wheel or texting and driving. Inexperience and overconfidence are a dangerous combination that can lead to broken traffic laws, catastrophic car accidents, and serious injuries and deaths. If you or your child gets into a car accident with a learner’s permit in California, the consequences can be severe.

What Happens If You Get in an Accident With a Permit in California?

Was the Driver Obeying the Permit’s Provisions?

After an auto accident, the police may investigate to see if either driver was breaking a roadway rule and whether this is what caused the crash. A driver must obey certain provisions when driving with a learner’s permit in California.

These restrictions are in place for the driver’s safety and that of others. If you or your child were violating a provision at the time of the accident, the other driver may be able to use this against you as proof of fault.

  • You can only drive with an adult in the vehicle who has a valid driver’s license and is at least 25 years old.
  • You cannot be on the road between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. Driving is more dangerous at night due to poor visibility.
  • You can only carry passengers who are over the age of 20 unless a licensed driver over 25 is present.
  • You must drive with a learner’s permit for at least six months before you can take your driver’s test for a standard license.

If you were not at fault, the other party would not be able to hold you (or your parents, as a teen driver) civilly liable for damages. You could, however, face a traffic infraction if you were unlawfully driving without a valid license.

If you were violating the provisional terms of your permit at the time of the car accident, you could face penalties even if you did not cause the crash. You may receive points on your license or have to pay a fine.

Does the Driver Have Insurance?

Since most drivers with learner’s permits are underage, it will be their parents’ responsibility to carry insurance. Under California law, parents will be vicariously liable for the actions of their children under 18. The parent or guardian of a permitted teen driver will accept financial responsibility, therefore, for any at-fault accident that occurs while the teen is driving. All drivers in California must carry coverage of at least 15/30/5 in bodily injury and property damage liability insurance.

If a driver operating with a learner’s permit causes a car accident in California, their parent’s insurance should cover the damages. The teen driver should carry proof of insurance to show to accident victims and the police after an accident.

If the other driver caused the crash, it will be their responsibility to pay for damages. This is how fault insurance laws work in California. Determining fault for an auto accident involving a young driver may take an attorney’s assistance.

Was the Driver Breaking the Law?

If you or your child were in violation of one of California’s laws and this is what caused the wreck, you may have to deal with a criminal case on top of civil liability. You or your child may face a misdemeanor or even a felony charge depending on the severity of the infraction and the damages suffered. If you struck someone, caused a serious injury, and fled the scene, for example, you could face a felony hit-and-run charge.

The penalties for a traffic offense can range from simple fines to suspension of your or your teen’s driving privileges. Crimes such as hit-and-run or drunk driving, however, could result in probation or time spent in a juvenile facility. Work with a Sacramento personal injury lawyer for legal advice about your specific car accident case.

Navigating Insurance Company Claims With a California Permit

If you or your teen is involved in a car accident while driving with a learner’s permit in California, navigating insurance claims on your own can be complex. Understanding the process and working with a car accident lawyer can significantly ease this burden.

Step 1: Report the Accident to the Insurance Company

Promptly inform car insurance companies about the accident, regardless of who was at fault. Most policies require notification within a specific timeframe. Failure to report in time may result in the denial of your claim. When reporting, provide a factual account of what happened without admitting fault.

Step 2: Understand the Coverage

Insurance policies for drivers with learner’s permits typically fall under the guardian’s or parent’s policy. In California, the law requires drivers to have minimum liability coverage. Ensure you understand the extent and limits of your coverage, including medical payments coverage, collision coverage, and uninsured motorist coverage.

Step 3: Determine Fault

California operates under a fault-based insurance system, which means the motorist responsible for causing the accident is liable for the damages. Car insurance companies will conduct their investigations to determine fault, considering police reports, witness statements, and other evidence. The degree of fault can affect the outcome of the insurance claim.

Step 4: Manage the Claims Process

Once a claim is successfully filed, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. They’ll assess the damage, review the police report, and possibly interview involved parties. It’s crucial to cooperate with the adjuster but also to be cautious. Consider consulting with an attorney before providing detailed statements, especially if the accident involves significant damages or injuries.

Step 5: Deal with the Other Party’s Insurer

If the other driver was at fault, you would need to file a claim with their insurance company for damages or injuries. This process can be complex, and the other insurer may attempt to minimize your claim. Having legal representation is beneficial in navigating these negotiations.

Step 6: Seek Legal Advice

Navigating insurance claims, especially following an accident involving a learner’s permit, can be complex. Consulting with a lawyer specializing in auto accidents can provide you with guidance, ensure your rights are protected, and help maximize your compensation.

By taking these steps, you can manage the aftermath of the accident more effectively and ensure a fair resolution.