In mid-April of 2023, a Mansfield, MA man died in a fatal car crash involving the vehicle he was riding in and an education car from the local Teachers Driving Academy. The occupants of the education car were a permitted driver and a road test agent affiliated with the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The Mansfield education car crash, which resulted in the death of 80-year-old John Masciarelli, raises the question of who exactly is at fault in an accident involving an education vehicle. While the investigation remains underway regarding the crash that ended Masciarelli’s life, other motorists can benefit from knowing what steps to take after an education car accident.
Who Is at Fault in an Accident Involving an Education Car?
Victims who suffer damage or injury due to an accident caused by an education vehicle need to understand which party is at fault so that they can secure the full amount of compensation they deserve. While it may be easy to point the finger at the student driver, the parties that can bear liability in an education car accident actually include:
- The student driver
- The driving instructor
- The driving school
The circumstances surrounding each motor vehicle accident are unique. Motorists who experience a collision with an education car need to know when each involved party might be liable. In some cases, it may only be possible to pursue compensation from a single party, while other cases might call for legal action against multiple parties. Discerning the circumstances behind an individual accident will make it clear what action is necessary to receive the full compensation that is due.
When Is a Student Driver at Fault?
Though student drivers are still in the process of learning the rules of the road and various driving best practices, that does not relieve them of the responsibility to drive safely and maintain absolute awareness while behind the wheel. If an accident occurs as the direct result of a student driver’s negligence, the victim has every right to claim they are at fault.
Similarly, there are circumstances when a student driver’s parents may be at fault. If there is evidence that a parent or guardian should be aware that their child presents a danger to others on the road, such as if that child already has a history of traffic accidents, then the parent may be guilty of negligence in allowing the teen to drive.
If it becomes necessary to file a claim against a student driver, it is important to be aware that many student drivers are minors covered by their parent’s insurance policies. Even if the parent is not a liable party in an education car accident, it is still likely that any compensation received will come from the parents’ auto coverage.
When Is a Driving Instructor at Fault?
When a driving instructor accompanies a student driver, their role and responsibility is to provide guidance and take any possible action necessary to prevent an accident in case of emergency. An instructor who neglects to take such action may be partially or fully responsible for a collision when one occurs.
As an example, many driver’s ed vehicles come equipped with dual control brakes. These are brake pedals present on the passenger side of the vehicle which a driving instructor can engage to bring the vehicle to an emergency stop during potential crisis situations. If an instructor neglects to use the dual control brakes or otherwise assume control of the vehicle when a crash seems imminent, then it could be that they are guilty of allowing distractions or other wrongful behavior for which they are legally liable.
When Is the Driving School at Fault?
When an accident occurs, a victim’s first inclination is to blame the other driver behind the wheel or even any additional occupants of the vehicle. It might not come to mind to hold other parties responsible who were not even at the scene, but it is sometimes the case that the driving school in charge of an education vehicle might share in the blame if that vehicle causes a crash.
Driving schools are responsible for maintaining their education cars, so it stands to reason that any malfunction in an education vehicle that causes a collision is the fault of the school itself.
Driving schools are also responsible for the instructors who work for them. If an accident occurs not only because the instructor was negligent, but also because that instructor did not receive sufficient training or management, then that is something for which the school is liable.
It may also be the case that an instructor employed by a driving school did not have the proper qualifications for their role in the first place. If it becomes apparent that this is the case, the school may also be on the hook for negligent hiring practices.
What Damages Can the Victim Get in an Education Car Accident?
As with any other type of car accident, victims of a crash involving an education car can collect damages to cover the costs of vehicle repairs and medical bills. However, there are other types of damages that many affected motorists tend to overlook in the aftermath of a car accident.
Many injured motorists will have to take time off of work to receive medical treatment and recover, but it is possible to collect damages from the liable parties for any lost wages. It is also possible to collect damages for any pain and suffering incurred, such as physical pain, mental anguish or a lower quality of life due to a resulting disability. In the case of wrongful death, funeral costs may also be among the collectible damages.
Who To Call After an Education Car Accident
Accidents involving education vehicles are complex and imply the potential involvement of multiple at-fault parties. Getting the full amount of compensation you deserve requires the specific expertise necessary for navigating a complicated injury claim and pursuing all parties liable for the damages you incurred. Contact Jason Stone Injury Lawyers for a free consultation today.