Salerno & Leavitt
Who's Liable When a Teen Driver Causes an Accident?
When another driver causes a car accident that leads to damages, you may be able to hold that driver or even their employer liable for your injuries. However, you may be wondering what happens when a teen driver runs into your vehicle. Here's a breakdown of the liability issues.
Generally, car owners are liable for accidents caused by their car. There are only a few exceptions to this rule — for instance, if someone steals a car and causes an accident, the owner is probably not liable.
However, if a teen hits you, their parents can't just say that the teen didn't have permission to use the car. They would have to charge their own child with car theft, and even in that situation, the parents may still be liable.
Auto Insurance and Liability
Generally, if a teen driver causes an accident that leads to injuries, their car insurance should cover the costs associated with the injury. The liability portion of their policy or their parents' policy should cover the damages such as medical bills and property damage to your car. In these situations, you need an attorney who can help you negotiate a fair settlement with the teen's insurance policy.
However, in some cases, their coverage may not be enough to cover all the costs you have incurred. In particular, if the teen is paying for their own coverage, they may have minimum amounts of liability coverage, and that coverage may not be adequate, especially if you are dealing with other issues such as pain and suffering, lost wages, or compromised future earning potential.
If you lost a loved one due to the accident, you may be facing final medical bills, funeral expenses, and damages related to the emotional toll of your suffering. In most cases, you don’t benefit from a suit against a teen simply because they have no assets. Hire a personal injury attorney who has experience with car accident cases so they can help you bring a claim against the teen’s parents.
As a general rule of thumb, car owners list all licensed drivers who live in their home on their auto insurance policies, but most insurers allow policyholders to exclude certain drivers.
If a parent excludes their teen driver but the teen drives anyway, the auto insurer may reject the claim. However, a lawyer can help you to make a case against these parents by establishing that they are liable for their teen’s actions.
In most cases, parents are liable for their children's behavior. State laws vary, but parents can be held civilly liable and sometimes even criminally liable when their children cause injuries or property damage. The logic behind these laws is that parents should keep an eye on their children.
If they have excluded their teen from their car insurance, they should take extra precautions to ensure their teen doesn't take the car and cause an accident. When they fail to do so, they have to pay the consequences.
Young drivers are more likely to cause accidents than old drivers, and the heightened risk extends to college kids as well as kids in high school. Many students start college when they are 18, and as a result, numerous college freshmen and sophomores are teen drivers.
The liability issues can be slightly different with teens or early 20-somethings who are in college. However, if a parent gives a college-aged child permission to borrow their vehicle, even when they know the child has engaged in reckless activities in the past, they may still be personally liable.
Imagine a 19 year-old is home from college. On paper, this person is an adult responsible for their own actions. However, this late teen also has a huge history of substance abuse. In spite of knowing about this, the parents still lend the child the car. After the child crashes, the parents may face liability.
If you have been hit by a young driver, you are not alone, and you may be entitled to compensation. To learn more, contact us today at Terry Salerno and Associates.