In the past, parents were held accountable by the Vicarious Liability Doctrine for the carelessness of their teens while they were driving. This is because the parents were thought to be in charge of their children’s actions, and were therefore responsible for the accidents their children caused while they were behind the wheel.
Although the doctrine still exists it’s not as strict as it once was, however, parents of teen drivers can still be held responsible for any damages that occur as a result of a car accident.
If you have been involved in a car accident that was caused by a teen driver you may have an insurance claim, and you may also have a personal injury lawsuit. The claim and the lawsuit could be brought against the teen for their careless driving. You could also bring a claim or a lawsuit against the teen’s parents if they were aware or should have been aware that their child was likely to behave in such a way that caused the accident, or if the state that you live in has the family purpose doctrine.
Claims Made Against a Teen Driver
While vicarious liability no longer holds a teen’s parents responsible for their behavior, a teen can now be held financially responsible for their actions. If you were involved in an accident that was caused by a teen driver, you will need to claim for compensation through their insurer, or through the teen directly.
Your lawsuit or insurance claim would use the legal theory of negligence. This theory basically means that the driver failed to drive safely and that they can be found at fault for any injuries that were caused by the accident.
Claims Made Against a Teen Driver’s Parents
In addition to holding the teen driver responsible for the car accident, you may also want to think about bringing a claim against their parents. However, this may not be as easy as it sounds as you will have to prove that the parents of the teen knew or should have known that their teen was likely to cause a car accident. You will also have to prove that the parents of the teen lent their car to the teen knowing that they were negligent. Please be aware that you may not be able to use the second liability in every state. If you’re unsure as to whether your state uses this liability, please ask a lawyer for help.
If the Teen’s Parents Knew their Child was Likely to Cause an Accident
If you find out that the teen’s parents knew, or if they should have known that their teen was likely to cause a car accident, the parents could be found financially responsible for the damages that were caused. You will need to be careful here though, as you need to make sure that the teen’s bad habits (Such as texting while they drive) were the cause of the accident.
The Family Purpose Doctrine
Many parts of the United States use Family Purpose Doctrine laws, this law says that a vehicle’s owner is responsible for the operation (Including careless operation) of their vehicle, even if it is being driven by another member of their family. The family purpose doctrine applies when the car is being used consensually and for any purpose, even if that purpose is driving it for the mere pleasure of driving.
Getting the Legal Help you Need
When a teen driver is involved in a car accident it can be difficult to understand whether the teen’s parents or the teen should be held liable. You will also need to find out if the state you live in uses the Family Purpose Doctrine, If you have suffered damages to your car, or you have suffered from a personal injury in a car accident that was caused by a teen driver please speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as you can.
If you are currently suffering from a personal injury and are unable to read ‘Parents of Teen Drivers and Vicarious Liability’ please watch our Injury Pedia video so you can gain the Personal Injury Information and Answers you are seeking.