Learner drivers' liability on the road | Paschal O’Hare Personal Injury Solicitors | Belfast - Northern Ireland
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Learner drivers' liability on the road

Learner drivers' liability on the road

Learning to drive is an exciting time, promising future enjoyment of all that our roads have to offer. However, road accidents do unfortunately happen. In fact, they’re more likely to happen if there are L plates on the car. When it comes to the law and liability, learner status offers no protections or additional compassion. Here are a few things that learner drivers and their instructors should think about it before starting a lesson.  

Professional Instruction

If involved in an accident, the learner driver of the vehicle is held liable, assuming it was their fault. However, professional driving instructors have specialist car insurance that covers both learner and instructor. Professional instructors often have dual controls and can intervene well before an accident occurs. There are some instances where an instructor may be held liable. An example of this would be if the instructor failed to watch the road whilst the learner was in motion.  

Amateur Instruction

Parent or friend instructors must remember to put the learner on their insurance policy. If an accident occurs and the learner is uninsured they could get in trouble, including possible criminal charges and points on their provisional license. In the event of an accident, even if the amateur instructor failed to add the learner to their insurance, the insurance provider will still pay damages to third-parties involved. However, they may have right of recovery against the policy holder. This means the policy holder could have to reimburse the insurer for the amount paid out.   

Contributory Negligence

An accident might seem like it was the fault of a learner, when there was actually shared responsibility between the learner and a third-party. Although learner drivers have no special protections, other drivers are expected to be cautious when they see a car with an L plate displayed. Should a driver become impatient and get too close to a learner, or distract a learner with flashing headlamps or sounding the horn, and an accident occurs, both parties could be liable. This is called contributory negligence and you can learn more about it here.

Although there are general rules of thumb when it comes to insurance policies, every provider is different. You should always check your policy to ensure you’re covered in the manner in which you think you are.  


If you had an accident involving a learner driver that wasn’t your fault, or another road users caused an accident during your lesson, we may be able to help. Click here to learn more about our services or contact us for a free no obligation enquiry.     

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