FREE Case Review (866) 588-0600

Parental Liability in Teenage Car Accidents
(4 Common Defense Types)

Awards & recognition
C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt
Free Consultation
If you or a loved one think you may have a claim, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately.

You may be entitled to recover compensation and our legal team can help. Please click the button below for a Free Consultation or call us toll-free 24 hrs/day for legal advice by dialing (866) 588-0600.

Start My Free Case Evaluation

In certain states and scenarios, parents may be held accountable for paying for damages resulting from car accidents caused by their teenage children. As more and more teenagers get behind the wheel, the likelihood of accidents increases, which also increases the potential for liability on the part of parents.

As a car accident lawyer with more than ten years of experience, I will explain how parents can be held responsible for their teen’s actions and guide you on how to minimize risk.

Quick Summary

  • Parents may be liable for damages caused by their teen driver depending on the state and circumstances of an accident.
  • Negligent entrustment, vicarious liability & family use doctrine can leave parents responsible for any car accident involving a minor child.
  • Investing in driver education, supervised practice & setting rules can help prevent accidents and reduce parental liability.

Parental Liability In Teenage Car Accidents

A picture shows a car accident

Regarding parental liability for teen drivers, the rules and regulations vary depending on the state and the accident’s circumstances.

In some cases, parents may be held accountable for any damages caused by their teen driver through negligent entrustment, vicarious liability, or driving privilege application liability.

Related Article: Teen Driving Safety Tips

Negligent Entrustment

Negent entrustment refers to a situation where a parent or guardian is aware of their teen driver’s potential danger to other drivers on the road but still allows them to operate a vehicle. 

For example, suppose a parent is aware of their teen’s reckless driving history but still permits them to use the family car. In that case, the parent can be held responsible for any damages resulting from a car accident.

To establish negligent entrustment, you must show that the parent or guardian was aware (or should have been aware) that allowing the minor to drive posed a specific danger to others.

Additionally, it must be proven that they did not take reasonable measures to minimize the risk of harm.

This may result in the parent or guardian being held responsible for expenses such as medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage of any person injured in the accident.

Vicarious Liability For A Child’s Actions

Vicarious liability is a legal concept that holds parents and legal guardians responsible for any injuries, property damage, and other losses resulting from their minor child’s actions [1]. Image shows that the child is frustrated

In some states, this is referred to as the “family use” or “family purpose” doctrine or “joint liability.

Parents can be held responsible if their teen driver is involved in a car accident while performing family-related tasks.

This is known as the family purpose doctrine.

To establish vicarious liability, you must show that the parent actively permitted their child to use the vehicle at the time in question and that they had custody of or control over the teen driver when the accident occurred.

Driving Privilege Application Liability

Some states require parents or guardians to take responsibility for their minor child’s actions in case of a car accident when applying for a driving license.

In California, parents or guardians who lend their car to a minor driver can be held liable for all injuries, property damage, and losses if the minor causes an accident. 

“Negligence must be proven based on a preponderance of the evidence if you hope to pursue a claim against the teen driver’s parents. Parental responsibility is also known as vicarious liability under the law. ”
Seth Bader, Personal Injury Lawyer at Bader & Scott Injury Lawyers.

What To Do After Your Teen Causes a Car Accident?

After your teen causes a car accident, you should notify your insurance company and the police immediately.A photo shows that the woman is talking to her phone

Suppose you are found liable for damages caused by your teen driver.

In that case, you must contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who is f the intricacies of parental liability laws to thoroughly assess your case and determine if you can seek compensation.

Additionally, being honest with your insurance provider while making claims is important. Your insurer may cover some of the expenses related to the accident, including medical bills and repair costs for vehicles involved in the crash. 

Also Read: Child Abuse Penalties and Sentencing

Can A Parent/Guardian’s Car Insurance Likely Cover a Teen Driver?

A parent/guardian’s car insurance can cover a teen driver. Insurance coverage for teen drivers is crucial to protecting both the parent and the teen from the financial consequences of a car accident.

As long as the teen driver is licensed, properly added to the parents’ car insurance policy, and the policy has sufficient limits, the question of who is legally liable after an accident may not have a significant financial impact.

The insurance company will cover damages up to the policy limits.

If the at-fault driver commits a criminal rather than a negligent act, it may not be covered by their car insurance policy [2]. This is an exception to the usual rule.

Related Article: Not Wearing A Seatbelt Affects Your Car Accident Claim?

Potential Defenses to Parental Liability for a Teen Child’s Accident

If a parent or guardian can prove that they were not negligent in entrusting their car to a teenage driver, they may not be held responsible for any accident caused by the teen while driving.A photo of a teen that caused accident

A parent needs to prove that:

  • At the time of the accident, they were not the legal custodians of the child.
  • At the time, the child was not living with them.
  • The child’s behavior was beyond their control.

Once a child turns 18 and legally owns their vehicle (titled in their name), parents/guardians are typically not responsible for any damages caused by the teen driver.

Related Articles:

If you have been affected by any of these matters, feel free to contact a personal defense attorney that can help.


What If My Teenage Child Drove My Car Without My Permission?

If your teenage child drove your car without your permission, you may still be liable for any damages or injuries they cause. It is important to report the unauthorized use of your vehicle to the police and your insurance company as soon as possible.

Can Parents Be Sued In A Personal Injury Lawsuit For Their Teenager’s Accident?

Yes, parents can be sued in a personal injury lawsuit for their teenager’s accident. Suppose a parent knowingly allows their teen to drive without a driver’s license or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In that case, they may be found liable for any resulting damages or injuries.

What Damages Can Parents Be Found Liable For?

Damages that parents may be found liable for include property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The extent of their liability will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and the laws of their state.

Contact A Personal Injury Attorney Today

Dealing with legal problems regarding parental responsibility for a car accident caused by a teenage driver can lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed due to the legal system’s complexity. It is crucial to comprehend how parents can be held responsible and take appropriate measures to minimize potential risks. Schmidt & Clark, LLP has a team of skilled attorneys with extensive experience handling personal injury cases related to teen driver accidents.

Our legal services can help you understand your rights and options, and we will work tirelessly to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and discuss your case with our team.






Free Confidential Case Evaluation

Verified 100% Secure SiteTo contact us for a free review of your potential case, please fill out the form below or call us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing: (866) 588-0600.