Did you know that the rate of fatal crashes per mile for 16 to 19 year-olds is three times the amount for those 20 and older? So, this may leave parents wondering if they could be liable for a teenage car accident.
It’s a question that many parents of teen drivers have asked, and one that has divided opinions. Some people may believe that parents can be responsible if their child causes an accident. While others believe that the child is the only one responsible. So what do the experts and the law say about it?
We’re going to take a closer look at this question and help you understand what affects the answer. Keep reading if you want the answers.
What Is Parental and Vicarious Liability?
Liability is the legal responsibility for damages. So, when we talk about “parent liability,” we’re referring to a parent’s responsibility for their child’s actions. And “vicarious liability” is a legal doctrine that holds one person indirectly responsible for the actions of another.
Now, in some states, they do not hold parents vicariously liable for their teenage drivers’ car accidents. This means that, even if the parent owns the car their child was driving, they’re not legally responsible for any damage or injuries caused by the accident.
Additionally, if the parent knew their child was not a safe driver but allowed them to drive anyway. They could be liable for negligence. This is, “negligent entrustment”. This is a cause of action that arises when one party is liable for negligence for providing another party with something that could cause danger, and actual harm or the injury caused.
How It Works In Florida
Under Florida’s law, parents are responsible for any injuries or damages caused by their minor child’s negligence while driving. Mentioned specifically under Florida’s Statutes section 322.09.
Any time a minor applies for a driver’s license in Florida, the parent or guardian must also sign and verify that they are willing to assume responsibility. In general, a parent or guardian has to sign for the driver’s license if the driver is under the age of 18.
The parent and the child would both be responsible for any monetary compensation that’s owed to the other involved party. This can include anything from a minor accident to an accident that involved drunk driving or texting and resulted in multiple injured parties.
Here’s a good example. If a minor causes an accident because they were texting, generally multitasking, or weren’t paying attention, the parent or guardian would be responsible for any injuries caused. That could include having to claim responsibility for the injured parties’ medical expenses, property damage, and even loss of income.
What If a Teenage Car Accident Happens When They Borrowed YOUR CAR?
If your teenage child causes an accident while borrowing your car, you may be responsible for any damage or injuries that occur. This is because, in many states, the owner of the car is responsible for any accidents that occur while it’s operational.
This falls under the “Registered-Owner” rule. This rule expresses that the registered owner of a vehicle whose operation ends up causing injury is liable.
So, if your teenage child borrows your car and causes an accident, you could be liable for their actions. The best thing to do here is to check your specific state’s laws concerned with teenage driving. Or, it would be even more beneficial to talk with a professional if you have any concerns or questions before your teenager(s) starts to drive.
A Look at Deadly Car Accidents Rise in 2022
Every year, at least 3700 people across the world get killed in vehicle accidents in a day. In 2022, the statistics for car accidents were updated to reflect a few important areas of driving and driving safety. Unfortunately, car accidents are the leading cause of death in the U.S. for healthy individuals.
At least 2.5 million people are either seriously injured or are unfortunately disabled from these accidents. At least 9% of car accidents concerning teenagers are often from becoming distracted. Additionally, concerning younger drives between 16 and 21, the most common car crash involving this age group is colliding with fixed objects. This could be trees, guardrails, or even utility poles.
With more car accidents happening between 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm, there is always the need to pay close attention to teenage drivers.
Can Parents Protect Themselves From Liability for an Accident Caused by Their Child?
There are some steps parents can take to protect themselves from liability for their teenage child’s car accidents. These include the following:
Setting Rules for Driving
Parents should set rules for their teenage children when it comes to driving. These rules should include things like not drinking and driving, limiting or not driving with passengers at all, and not driving at night.
Putting the Child on the Insurance Policy
Parents can protect themselves by putting their teenage child and the specific car on their insurance policy. This will help to ensure that the parent is not made liable if the child causes an accident. Parents should also be co-registered on the vehicle that the teenager drives.
Don’t forget to add your child and the car to your umbrella liability policy as well.
Supervise as Needed
For best practice, make sure to ride with or supervise your teenager while they drive. This is a good way to catch mistakes in driving early on or to keep accidents from happening while riding.
So, there are some steps parents can take to protect themselves from liability for a teenage car accident. By taking these steps, parents can help to ensure that they are not held responsible for their child’s actions.
Get the Guidance You Need
Whether you were in an accident or if there was a teenage car accident, consider working with RHINO Lawyers and partnering with a lawyer that focuses on auto accidents. Our team of knowledgeable, experienced, and concerned attorneys, knows that insurance companies can be bullies and that the process can be hard to navigate.
With all of this in mind, we work to build a defense for you, with you in mind. Get in touch with us today if you’re interested in learning more.
CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY
In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.
Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.RHINO.77.