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Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers. When teen drivers have other passengers in the car, the risk of a fatal car crash doubles. And teenagers are more prone to have a collision during the first months of licensure. Now, North Carolina roads may see an influx of teen drivers who have not even had a road test.

New Law Puts Untested Teen Drivers on NC Roads

Governor Roy Cooper recently signed a bill that allows teen drivers to get their limited driver’s license without a road test during the coronavirus pandemic. House Bill 158 permits the NC Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to temporarily waive the requirement of a road test for young drivers attempting to obtain a Level 2 limited provisional license. The road test will now be administered after 6 months of violation-free driving with their provisional license. According to the NC DMV the road test will be waived provided that the teen drivers meet the following criteria:

  • Be 16 or 17 years old
  • Have their Level 1 Limited Learner Permit for at least 12 months
  • Have completed at least 60 hours of supervised driving, including time at night
  • Have no moving violations or seat belt/cell phone violations within the last six months
  • Have coverage under a liability insurance policy

Rules of Level 2 Limited Provisional License

If the above criteria are met, the teen driver will be able to get their Level 2 Limited Provisional License. However, there are still several regulations that drivers must abide by, including:

  • Drivers must be at least 16 years old, but less than 18.
  • Drivers may drive without supervision from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. and at any time when driving directly to or from work or any volunteer fire, rescue, or EMS activities.
  • Supervising driver must be seated beside the driver during restricted times.
  • Only one passenger under the age of 21 is allowed in a motor vehicle when the driver is the holder of a Level 2 license.
  • There is no limit on passengers under the age of 21 if all passengers in the vehicle are members of the driver’s immediate family or members of the same household as the driver.
  • If there is a supervising driver in the car, the passenger restriction/limit does not apply.

Negligent Entrustment

As mentioned above, parents have a stake in ensuring their teens are qualified to be on the road, because they can be sued directly if an accident occurs. Parental liability is created under the doctrine of negligent entrustment, which says a parent can be liable when their teen causes a car accident if the parent knew, or should have known, that the teen driver was a danger to others on the road.

With driving road tests being waived, this exposes many parents to liability. For example, if you give your teen driver minimal highway driving experience and then allowed them to drive on the highway with the level 2 license, and they cause an accident. In this situation, the parents are potentially liable for any damages resulting from the accident.

Vicarious Liability

Parents can also be on the hook for an accident their child caused through the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. Through vicarious liability, the parent will be liable for the wrongdoing of their teen driver if the driver is acting under direction and authority of the parent. In North Carolina, under vicarious liability, parents can be held liable if their teen driver causes a car accident while fulfilling any family “purpose” or “use.” This purpose can be almost anything, as long as the parent has control over the teen driver’s use of the car.

For instance, if a parent asks the teen driver to go to the gas station to fill up the car, the parent could be liable if the teen were to cause an accident during that drive.

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Evaluate Your Case FREE

If you are injured in an accident caused by a teen driver, you may be entitled to compensation. As you can tell, getting in an accident with a teen driver can be a very complicated legal situation. That’s where we can help. Here at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have experienced North Carolina car accident attorneys who know how to navigate complicated legal problems like these. For a FREE case evaluation, call us today at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online and chat with a live representative.

When you are injured at work – and unable to return to work as a result – you are typically entitled to ongoing weekly workers’ compensation checks to replace your lost income. In North Carolina, these weekly checks are called “temporary total disability benefits.” So how do you find out if you are receiving the right amount each week?

To calculate the amount that you are entitled to, you have to first determine your average weekly wage or what you were earning on average per week before your workplace accident. The law in North Carolina provides four ways to calculate what you may be entitled to for your missed time from work.

Method 1

If you have been working with the same employer for the previous 52 weeks and you have not missed more than seven consecutive days from work, then you can use the standard calculation. If you fall under this category, you take your pre-tax earnings from the 52 weeks before the date of your injury and divide by 52. Bonuses and any daily per diem should be included when calculating your wages.

Jack example
For example, let’s say Jack was injured on the job. Jack looks at his pre-tax earnings (also called gross earnings) and finds that he made $52,000 in the 52 weeks prior to his injury. This makes his calculation easy: $52,000 / 52 weeks = $1,000 per week.

Method 2

If you have been working with the same employer for the previous 52 weeks and you have missed more than seven consecutive days, then you need to remove the gaps in employment. For example, if you were out of work for 4 weeks within the last 52 weeks then that would mean that you only worked 48 weeks. Instead of dividing your pre-tax earnings by 52 weeks, you would need to divide it by 48 weeks. You weren’t earning a wage, so those weeks basically don’t count. Removing these days where you were not working and earning income will increase your average weekly wage.

Jorge example
Jorge was off for three weeks a few months back, but has been otherwise working. He calculates that he earned $38,000 before taxes in the last 52 weeks. He subtracts out the three weeks he was without work, so his calculation looks like this: $38,000 / 49 (that’s 52 weeks, minus the three he was out of work) = $775.51 per week.

Method 3

If you have only been with the employer for a few months prior to the accident, then you would want to use the third method of calculation. Under this method, you would need to obtain wage information for a similar employee. Once you have this similar employee’s wage information, you use Method 1 from above to calculate your average weekly wage.

Karla example
Karla has only been working this job for two months. Because she doesn’t have as much history, she has to find a similar employee to herself for an equitable comparison. She knows Ronnie has been doing the same job as she has for more than a year. Using Ronnie’s income of $44,000, she can use Method 1 above. $44,000 / 52 weeks = $846.15 per week.

Method 4

Lastly, there is a catch all provision that allows the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC), which is the entity that handles workers’ comp issues in North Carolina, to look at other factors in determining what is fair. In the event that none of the above methods are appropriate for calculating your average weekly wage, you would need to find another way to determine the amount that you would have been earning if you had not been injured at work. If you received a recent raise or had some change in your employment status which impacted your earnings, this may be the most appropriate method.

Shawn example
Shawn has been working with the same company for a while. He was making $50,000 a year, but he received a raise two months ago, which bumped him to $60,000. In this case, Shawn would file a hearing request with the Commission and ask to be compensated based his current weekly wage, even though he has not been earning that amount for 52 weeks.

Final Step: Weekly Wage Multiplier

Using the information above, you can determine your average weekly wage. However, there is still one more step. You have to take your average weekly wage before taxes, and multiply it by 0.6667. This results in what is called your compensation rate. This determines the amount that you should be receiving per week while you are out of work.

Tyree example
Tyree has calculated that he was making $1,168 per week prior to his injury at his job. To get his compensation rate for workers’ compensation “temporary total disability benefit” check, he multiplies that by 0.6667. The total is $778.70, and that’s the amount that each of his weekly checks should be.

It is important to remember that workers’ compensation checks are not taxable.

What if My Workers’ Compensation Checks Are Not as Much as They Should Be?

By law, you are entitled to 66 and 2/3 percent of your pre-injury wages. These workers’ compensation benefits are called temporary total disability payments and, as we said, they are not taxed.

The insurance company may not correctly calculate your compensation rate, which would lead to you receiving less than what you are entitled to receive. They may forget to include bonuses or commissions, leave out income from concurrent employment with other employers, or fail to remove periods of missed time from work.

If you feel that you are being underpaid, you should consult an attorney to see if your compensation rate was inappropriately calculated. Not only would you potentially be entitled to on-going temporary total disability checks at a higher rate, but you may also be owed a lump sum for the underpayment.

If You’ve Been Injured at Work and Aren’t Sure You’re Getting All Your Benefits, Contact an Experienced Attorney

Are you getting the right amount in your weekly checks? Even if your checks look right, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney. It doesn’t cost you anything to have us review your situation. Not only could this lead to an increase in your weekly workers’ compensation checks, but you may also be entitled to a lump sum payment for the period where you were underpaid. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation, or simply contact us online.