Some accidents are so unintentional that it is difficult to place moral blame on the party who caused the mishap. That is probably the case in a recent tragedy that occurred when a 17-year-old male who was learning how to drive crashed a gate to a Texas daycare center, injuring five children and one adult who were outside the building. The negligent driver reportedly hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, sending the car into an uncontrolled plunge onto the private property.
Two of the children were airlifted to Children’s Medical Center Dallas. One of them was in critical condition. The operator, with his father in the passenger seat, was intending to enter the driving school located across the street from the daycare center. Police did not arrest him, and he was reportedly deeply upset by the incident. He had a valid learner’s permit.
Despite the lack of moral culpability on the part of the teen, he nonetheless was negligent when he hit the accelerator instead of the brakes. That negligence was a direct cause of the injuries to the victims, and the operator is legally liable to pay their damages. The actual compensation of victims will come from the insurance policy on the car being driven and possibly through insurance coverage applicable to other cars, if any, in the teen’s household.
In addition to the insurance coverage of the negligent driver, the injured children may also receive additional compensation from the automobile insurance coverage owned by the children’s parents through the underinsured motorist provisions of those policies. It is possible also that the daycare center may be responsible for damages because of its own negligence, but that prospect generally does not apply under these or similar facts. The best way to determine the answer to questions regarding damages in such cases occurring in Texas is to obtain an early consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Source: ABC News, “5 children injured as car crashes into daycare in Texas“, Mark Osborne, Sept. 29, 2017