Teenagers are usually the picture of vibrant youth: happy, energetic and ready to take on the world. Since teens are so often the epitome of life in motion, it’s always shocking when someone in that age group passes away. Too frequently, fatal motor vehicle accidents steal the lives of those just entering adulthood.

Earlier this month, a 17-year-old boy from Fairfax was riding what is known as a “mini-bike” around Reston Parkway in Reston. He attempted to make a turn onto Wiehle Avenue, but crossed into the path of two other vehicles. One of those vehicles, an Acura MDX, hit the mini-bike and then crashed into another car, a Lexus GX470. The teen was severely injured and, a few days later, he succumbed to his injuries at a nearby hospital.

Fatal car accidents involving teens spawn a host of questions for surviving family members: who was responsible for the incident? Were any laws broken? Why were injuries so severe? Could the accident have been avoided? Did medical staff do everything they could to save the injured person’s life? In this instance, police noted they don’t plan to file charges against anyone because speed and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the crash.

When police charges aren’t filed in a motor vehicle crash, it can be tougher, though certainly not impossible, for victims or family members to bring forth a civil suit. Usually, civil suits are for personal injury cases or wrongful death situations. Both types of cases involve another’s negligence, or possibly recklessness, being the cause of an accident that, in turn, led to injury or death. Most cases are not that simple, however, and require careful scrutiny of the accident and the factors leading up to it.

If victims are able to successfully prove another’s negligence cause both the accident itself and the resulting injuries, they can be awarded damages for related costs such as funeral expenses, hospitalizations and lost wages. In addition, the shocking death of a teenager may also merit damages for mental anguish suffered by the victim’s family.

Source: NBC 4 Washington, “Sean Logan, 17, dies four days after mini-bike accident,” May 13, 2014