Teenagers are an at risk category of driver. They've just received their driver's license and feel that they're kings of the road. More and more states are raising the driving age and placing more restrictions on new drivers.
Even with these additional restrictions, if a teenage driver is involved in an accident and someone is injured, there is a possibility that the teen's parents may be held responsible for negligence.
Standard of Care for Teenage Motorists
Motorists of all ages have a duty to exercise care to avoid injuring and causing harm to other people while driving. This standard of care is called due or reasonable care. Teenage drivers are held to the same degree of care as an adult since they are engaging in an adult activity and have passed both the written and road driving tests.
Lawsuits against a Teenage Driver's Parents
Generally, a parent is not liable for the negligent driving of the child. However, there are certain instances when they can be:
- The parent knowingly allows an incompetent or reckless teenager to drive
- The parent fails supervise a teenager who is driving
- The teen is working for a parent or acting as their agent at the time of the accident
- The teen is using the family car for a family purpose with a parent's consent, such as running approved household errands
Some states have passed laws imposing responsibility on parents for the reckless driving of their teenage children. In these states, parents are liable for negligent teen driving on public roads and streets. However, in many circumstances, the parent will not be liable for the teenager's negligence if the teen used the car without permission. Similarly, if a parent does not have custody of the teenager at the time of the accident, then these laws usually do not apply.
Questions for Your Attorney
- My teen got into an accident, but was not at fault. What actions need to be taken?
- Can my teen be deemed a reckless or incompetent driver?
- What happens if I'm not held responsible for my teenager's action, but my teen is? Can my teen be sued or arrested?