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Car Accident With Student Driver: What Happens If They’re At Fault?

July 14, 2022 by Steven M. Gursten

Car Accident With Student Driver

If you were injured in a car accident with a student driver in Michigan and they were at-fault, you may be able to sue the student driver, the driving instructor, the driving school and the owner of the student driver’s motor vehicle for pain and suffering compensation and vehicle damage repair costs. You may also be able to recover No-Fault benefits to pay your medical bills.

Pain and suffering compensation for a car accident with student driver

No one likes to think about a young student driver causing a car accident in Michigan. But they happen, and they are more likely to happen with a student driver (as with all young drivers) because of driver inexperience. If you’ve been injured, you may be able to recover pain and suffering compensation if a student driver is at-fault for crashing into you.

As with every automobile crash that occurs in Michigan, your lawyer will need to prove negligence on the part of the student driver – or other responsible parties – and that your accident-related injuries caused you to suffer a serious impairment of body function under Michigan’s auto accident threshold law.

“Serious impairment of body function” is the legal standard under Michigan law that a crash victim must prove in order to sue for and collect pain and suffering compensation from an at-fault driver and/or responsible parties. (MCL 500.3135(1), (2), (3)(b))

Who can you sue for pain and suffering compensation if a student driver crashes into you?

If you’re in a car accident with a student in Michigan and they are at-fault for causing the crash, you may be able to pursue a claim for pain and suffering compensation against: (1) the student driver; (2) the driving instructor; (3) the driving school; and/or (4) the owner of the vehicle being driven by the student driver.

  • Student driver (minor) – Although a minor’s age, intelligence, capacity and experience under the circumstances will generally determine whether a minor can be held liable for his or her negligence, a minor driver is held to the same negligence standard that applies to any adult driver who also causes a car accident, i.e., the minor driver must use “ordinary care” which is “the care that a reasonably careful person would use.” (M Civ JI 10.02 – Negligence of Adult – Definition) In Constantino vs. Wolverine Ins. Co., 407 Mich. 896; 284 N.W.2d 463 (1979), the Michigan Supreme Court stated: “When a minor engages in a dangerous and adult activity, e.g., driving an automobile, he is charged with the same standard of conduct as an adult.” Additionally, in Stevens vs. Veenstra, 226 Mich. App. 441, 446, 573 N.W.2d 341 (1997), where a 14-year-old driver’s education student collided with a pedestrian, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that “anyone driving an automobile, regardless of age, must be held to the same standard of competence and conduct.”
  • Who pays if a student driver – who is a minor – crashes into you? – When a student driver causes a car accident in Michigan, who pays? In almost all cases, a minor driver will likely be covered by his or her parents’ auto insurance. In nearly 30 years of being a car accident lawyer, I have yet to see a specific exclusion to coverage that would preclude coverage. Also, in some circumstances, homeowners insurance may also apply. In addition, as will be discussed further below, the motor vehicle’s owner that the student driver was driving will also have auto insurance that will likely also cover personal injuries caused by a crash.
  • Student driver (adult) – Liability may be covered by the auto insurance policy of a spouse or relative who lives in the driver’s home. Also, coverage may be available through an applicable homeowners’ insurance policy.
  • Driving instructor – If you were injured in a car accident with a student driver and they were at-fault, you may be able to sue the student driver’s instructor if he or she was negligent in supervising the student driver and/or if the instructor negligently entrusted the vehicle to a student driver who was not qualified to be behind the wheel.
  • Driving school – You may be able to sue the driving school if it was negligent in hiring unqualified instructors and/or negligent in supervising its instructors and student drivers.
  • Vehicle owner – If you were injured in a car accident with a student driver and they were found to be at fault, you may be able to sue the owner of the vehicle that the student driver was driving at the time of the crash. The vehicle owner could be the driving school, the driving instructor, or a family member or parent of the student driver. Under Michigan’s “owner liability” law, the “owner of a motor vehicle is liable for an injury caused by the negligent operation of the motor vehicle . . .” (MCL 257.401(1))

Can you collect No-Fault PIP benefits if a student driver crashes into you?

If you are in a car accident with a student driver in Michigan and they were at fault, you may be able to recover No-Fault PIP benefits pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, medical mileage (transportation expenses for traveling to and from doctor and medical appointments), household replacement services and attendant care services.

To start the process, you must file an application for No-Fault benefits – which is also called a “written notice of injury” – with the responsible auto insurance company within one (1) year after the crash. (MCL 500.3145(1) and (4))

Failure to file the application on time – within ONE YEAR from the date of the automobile crash – will forever disqualify the victim from claiming and recovering the benefits that he or she might have otherwise been legally entitled to.

The auto insurance company that is responsible for paying your No-Fault PIP benefits will be your own insurer or the insurer of your spouse or a relative who lives in your home. If coverage is not available through any of those sources, then you will need to file an application for benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.

Paying for vehicle damage for a car accident with a student driver

The Michigan mini tort law may be able to help you pay for vehicle damage repair costs up to $3,000 if you are in a car accident with a student driver who is at-fault. You will need to be able to prove the dollar value of the damage to your car or truck. Plus, you must be able to prove that the student driver was at-fault in causing the crash.

You may be able to bring your mini tort claim against: (1) the student driver; (2) the driving instructor; (3) the driving school; and/or (4) the owner of the vehicle being driven by the student driver.

Normally, a mini tort claim is filed with an at-fault driver’s auto insurance company – assuming the at-fault driver carries “limited property damage coverage” which pays for mini tort claims.

However, if the student driver who caused the car accident in Michigan is not covered by mini tort insurance coverage, then you will need to file a mini tort lawsuit in Small Claims Court to collect your mini tort benefits.

Do you have questions about what happens if a student driver crashes into you in Michigan? Call the auto accident attorneys at Michigan Auto Law

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident with a student driver who was at-fault and you have questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and auto No-Fault insurance benefits, you can speak to an experienced auto accident lawyer at (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced No-Fault insurance attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.

Car Accident With Student Driver: What Happens If They\'re At Fault?

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