Are Parents Liable When Their Teenager Causes a Car Accident?

Are you as a parent responsible for the mistakes your teenager makes while driving on the road? Many of us have, or soon will have, teens that are eligible to drive and you may be excited for them to get their license and be out of the house more than they are in it but you may have some reservations about what the consequences will be if your child does get into an accident. So we give our kids tips and tell them what to look out for while on the road and offer all the help we can when it comes to advice on how to drive safely. However, like with many other aspects of life, sometimes kids refuse to learn from their parents.


Unfortunately the most dangerous age group on the road involves teenagers. Drivers in the age range of 16-20 are 3 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash and account for a high percentage of the total amount of accidents we see overall.


So are parents responsible for the mistakes of our teenage drivers? As with many legal questions, the answer is not black or white.  Frankly, that is why you hire a good attorney when you have a legal issue. I had a case where we brought a lawsuit against the teenage driver and one of her parents who owned the car.  We pursued a legal theory known as negligent entrustment against the parent.  Simply put, negligent entrustment is when someone should not allow another to use a dangerous thing, but they do anyway and someone gets hurt as a result of a negligent or improper use of that thing.  If you know that someone is inexperienced with guns, you would not hand them a loaded gun.  If someone was intoxicated, you should not hand them the keys to your car.

Are you safe?

So what can you do to avoid becoming personally responsible should your teenage get cause a car accident? If you have a good inclination that your child will cause an accident then you should not allow your child to operate a motor vehicle. Does this mean that you can let your child drive at all because you suspect they might not be the safest driver on the road? No, this type of judgment will go on a case by case basis and whether or not you would be held accountable is going to be based on what a parent would reasonably restrict a child to if they suspected them of being a unsafe driver.

For example, if your child drives themselves to and from school and you allow that but you do not allow them to go driving at any time with no questions asked when it is unrelated to school. Then your child causes an accident you are less likely to be held accountable because you did in fact try to restrict your child’s driving to a minimum because of your fears that they would cause an accident.

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