There Are Circumstances under Which Parents Can Be Held Liable for Their Teen’s Accident
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens between the ages of 16 and 19. In fact, six die every single day due to crash injuries.
Another major concern when it comes to car accidents involving teenagers is liability: Because teenagers are presumably under their parents control until they reach the age of 18–and they are held to the same standard of reasonability when it comes to driving responsibly–parents can be held liable for any damage caused by their teen’s accident. Almost every state provides for some kind of parental responsibility for injury and property damage, particularly when those acts result from intentional or willful conduct and foreseeable damage.
The circumstances under which parents can be held responsible for their teens’ accidents follows the general theory of negligence in general. For example:
- The theory of “negligent entrustment:” If the parent was placed on ‘notice’ regarding their teen being a danger to others on the road (for example, involvement in previous accidents, tickets, etc.), and they still allowed them use of the car anyway, they could be held liable;
- The parent may be liable if they send their child out on an errand and that child causes an accident either on the way to/from that errand or by using the car otherwise during that trip;
- Some states automatically require parents to assume a teen’s accident liability simply by signing the teen’s driver’s license application. In Texas, if the teen’s conduct is negligent, willful, or malicious, and causes property damage, liability can be imposed on parents; however, the teen’s acts must be reasonably attributable to the parent’s negligence in these circumstances.
Keep in mind, however, that this liability typically only applies until the teen reaches the age of 18, and not to parents who do not have custody of the child at the time of the accident. In addition, if the car is legally owned by the teen instead of the parent, then that parent cannot be held legally liable for negligent entrustment. Furthermore, if the teen was involved in a criminal activity at the time of the accident, a car insurance policy will exclude coverage of the associated claim.
If another driver’s negligence was the cause of your injury—regardless of how old they were—you may be entitled to compensation that can put you on the road to recovery. Contact our Texas personal injury and car accident attorneys today to find out more about how we can help.