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Are Parents Liable For Their Teen’s Driving?

It is probably true for all parents that kids grow up too fast. Before you know it, your little ones go from jumping rope in the driveway to pulling out the driveway with their car! Once your teen is old enough to have a drivers’ license, it is important for you to understand your duty of care as a parent of an adolescent driver. Continue reading to learn how you can be held liable for damages they may cause in a car accident.

Parents are Liable

In most states, parents who allow their licensed teenagers to drive their family vehicles can be held liable for any of their negligent driving behaviors. Under law, this is referred to as negligent entrustment, which is a legal theory in which the parental party, or “entruster”, can be held legally liable for any damages and losses resulting from an accident caused by the party they entrusted their vehicle to, or the “entrustee”, which in this case would be the teenager. The theory behind this law is that the parents were negligent in loaning the vehicle to their minor because they knew the minor was inexperienced, inept, reckless, or unlicensed.

These laws vary from state to state, so it is important to discuss your concerns with a legal professional who can clearly explain your particular jurisdiction’s laws regarding negligent entrustment and parent-teen liability.

The Family Purpose Doctrine

Similar to negligent entrustment, there is another law that relates to family members driving your vehicle. This is called the family purpose doctrine, and applies to persons of all ages. Regardless if permission was given to drive the vehicle or not, whoever owns the family car can be held responsible for any damages caused by another family member who drives their vehicle. This also varies from state to state. The theory behind the family purpose doctrine is that the vehicle is owned for family purposes, so owners have a responsibility to ensure that only qualified drivers are operating it at all times. In some states, whichever parent co-signs the drivers’ license application for their child is the party responsible for their driving behaviors.

Injured By an Adolescent Driver?

If you were hurt in an accident that was caused by an underage or teen driver, contact a licensed personal injury attorney who specializes in motor vehicle cases. They have the knowledge, experience, and litigation skills to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve. Use this compensation to pay for medical expenses, hospital bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and more.

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