A recent Irvine car crash tragedy has left families grieving, communities stunned and will have long lasting legal consequences, as well. Why was an apparently unlicensed 16 year old driver behind the wheel? Who knew this teenager was driving with a carload of kids at 2 am in the morning? Where do parental responsibilities lie in this tragic case?
California law currently states that drivers under the age of 18 have a provisional licence. Effective January 1, 2006, persons under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or other person aged 25 or older when transporting passengers under 20 years of age, at any time for the first twelve months. In addition, a teenager with a provisional license may not drive between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM for the first twelve months. Clearly, in this case, the law was not being followed.
While the families who lost loved ones will never fully recover in some ways, a clear understanding of the circumstances will more than likely help to provide some type of closure. However; the plain truth is that nothing will bring back their loved ones. And, unfortunately, they may not be able to access any relief from the legal system. Why? Because the insurance company involved may not legally have any liability.
If, as early reports show, the driver was unlicensed, and IF there was an insurance policy on the car, the company may not be legally responsible for any damages suffered. Why? Because the insurance would only cover a legally licensed driver. In this instance, it appears that is not the case. If this bears out, the families will have no recourse except to file a personal injury lawsuit against the parents of the driver. And what then? If they have no assets, the victims may not ever receive anything for their loss. Not that any amount of money would help, but they are entitled to a settlement for last expenses, fees for any emotional counseling the family members may need, and reimbursement for legal fees. Not to mention being compensated for the loss of their loved one.
Sadly, a car crash tragedy such as this will have lifelong ramifications. The driver will more than likely face legal charges, as may his parents. The other parents and loved ones will always have to live with the question of whether or not they could have done anything to prevent this.
Lesson to be learned is to follow the law. Only licensed drivers drive. Parents, make sure you know who is transporting your child. It’s ok to say no. It might save a life.