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Who is Responsible for Teen Auto Accidents?

It can feel frustrating, but Florida drivers pay car insurance rates that are 52% higher than the national average. One reason for this is the high rate of accidents. Teen drivers represent a small portion of Florida drivers but a significant portion of the accidents.

For parents of teens, the elevated car insurance rates can feel even more painful as they pay for their teen’s car insurance. The elevated accident rates result in increased insurance rates. In addition to insurance, parents must also take on the increased liability.

Find out what you could be responsible for as the parent of a teen auto accident.

General Parental Liability

Under Florida traffic law for teens, parents are liable for their teen’s negligent and intentional acts. This includes criminal activity. This liability continues until their child reaches the age of 18 when they are legally an adult.

You will need to sign a certification when your teen goes for their permit and license. This certification will include a statement that you certify that your teen can safely operate a vehicle on the road. This means you will have accident liability if they negligently cause an accident.

You are liable for property damages, personal injuries, and wrongful death damages. There is also the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in Florida. It holds the vehicle owner liable for damages when the driver gets into an accident.

Real-World Parental Liability in Teen Accidents

Do not assume that it can’t happen to your teen. A recent well-known case in Florida saw Cameron Herrin receive 24 years in prison for killing a young mom while street racing. He was a senior in high school when his parents gifted him a Mustang GT as a graduation present. Days after graduating high school, he made one decision that changed his life forever.

Another teen was charged with killing six people while traveling at 151 miles per hour. It was found that this teen was posting videos of his actions on social media.

The victim’s family has now filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him and his parents. The parents could find themselves liable and have to pay damages.

Unauthorized Use Liability

Usually, if your vehicle gets stolen, you and your insurance company are not liable for the damages and injuries caused. This is not always true when the person taking your vehicle is your teen.

Your teen has implied permission if they have their license, know where the keys are kept, and have ready access to those keys. Your vehicle is not stolen if they take it without your permission in this situation.

To argue unauthorized use and your lack of liability, you must prove that you expressly told your teen they did not have permission to use your vehicle. For example, you took away their driving privileges as part of a punishment.

Reduce Your Parental Liability

Speak with your teenage drivers about the seriousness of driving and road safety. Remind them that driving is a privilege, not a right. They must meet specific standards and follow the laws to keep the privilege.

Talk about common reasons for accidents, such as distraction or increased stress. Help them find solutions to make driving a safer activity for them.

If you find your teen repeatedly violating the rules, take action. Parents can take away their teen’s driving privileges.

No License Until 18

One option is not allowing your teen to obtain their license until they turn 18. At this point, they are officially an adult, and you are no longer liable. However, this is not practical or efficient.

Buy Additional Insurance

Another option is to purchase additional insurance. This will provide additional protection should your teen get into an auto accident. With plenty of insurance coverage, you reduce the risk of paying out of pocket for damages, injuries, and loss.

Place the Vehicle in Their Name

You can insulate yourself from liability by putting the title and insurance in their name. This creates a layer of separation between your teen and yourself. Should they get into an accident, you are not pulled into liability through the insurance coverage or vehicle owner channels.

However, this approach does not eliminate your liability as your teen’s parent.

Set Firm Rules

Before your teen starts driving, set firm rules. This allows your teen to experience their newfound independence safely.

For example, set rules about wearing their seat belt. Limit how many people can be in the vehicle or how fast they can drive. Set a curfew so they are not out driving late at night.

Teach Them Accident Procedures

Your teen may get into an accident that they did not cause. Unfortunately, they are an easy target to blame because they are a new driver. Teach them what to do after an accident to protect them and yourself.

After ensuring everyone is okay, have them notify the authorities to file a police report. While you can file an accident claim without a police report, it is much easier when you have one. This will help prove your teen’s innocence by having a police officer’s report verifying the facts of the incident.

Speak With an Accident Lawyer

The applicable law can vary significantly because there are so many types of accidents and circumstances. A lawyer can provide valuable insight into you and your teen’s rights and liabilities. When you hire a lawyer, you reduce the pressure by creating a buffer between you, the insurance company, and the other party.

Reduce Your Teen Auto Accident Liability

Letting your teen head out into the world on their own is stressful. Do not create more stress for yourself with a teen auto accident. Talk to your teen about the responsibility of driving and how to reduce their accident risk.

Consider reducing your liability by purchasing additional insurance and setting firm rules. If your teen does get into an accident, the team at RHINO Lawyers is ready to help. We have experience representing clients in a wide variety of car accident cases.

Give yourself peace of mind by hiring the RHINO Lawyers team to represent you in your teen’s accident lawsuit.


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.