What happens when a teen causes a car accident that injures yourself or a loved one? You may be wondering whether the teen or their parents can be held liable and if you can bring a claim against them for damages. Here’s what you should know.
When a Teen Crashes Their Parents’ Vehicle
As a general rule of thumb, when a person owns a car, they are liable for accidents caused by that vehicle. There are only a few rare exceptions—most notably, if someone steals a vehicle, the owner typically isn’t liable for any accidents that occur. However, a teen cannot be held responsible for stealing their parents’ vehicle, unless the parents are willing to bring criminal charges against them, and even then, they may still be held liable.
Insurance and Liability
If the teen is covered under the parents’ insurance, the liability portion of their policy kicks in and covers expenses related to the accident. Typically, policies have bodily injury and property damage coverage. Respectively, that covers the cost of the victim’s medical bills and damage to their vehicle or other property.
If the parents don’t have enough coverage in either of these areas, they can be held personally liable. In these situations, parents may be required to liquidate assets or face a wage garnishment to cover their liability.
Most auto insurance policies require every driver living in the house to be listed on the policy, but even if a teen isn’t listed on their parents’ policy, they are still likely to be covered under the permissive use part of the insurance plan. Basically, under that part of the insurance, if a vehicle owner gives someone permission to use the car, insurance covers accidents caused by them.
That said, some policies allow owners to exempt certain drivers. For instance, if a teen has a poor driving record and they can’t afford the higher insurance premiums, parents may be able to list them as an exempted driver on their policy.
After an accident caused by an exempted driver, insurance may not kick in, but the owner of the vehicle still may be liable. In that case, parents may also have to use their personal income or assets to cover liability.
Unlicensed Teen Drivers
What if an unlicensed teen takes a car? In these cases, parents can also be held liable for any injuries or damage caused by the accident. In particular, they can be held responsible based on parental negligence. This argument often helps victims win cases related to bullying and assault, among other things. The premise is that if the teen’s parents weren’t supervising their child, they effectively allowed them to steal their car and the parents are responsible for what happens afterward.
If you’ve been hit by a teen or even a college-aged driver, you may be able to hold their parents financially liable. We can help. At Mazow | McCullough, PC we have the experience you need for your personal injury case. Contact us today by calling 855-693-9084.