Liability for Accidents Caused by Teen Drivers

Although teens and young adults, age 15-24, only account for 14% of the population in the United States, young male drivers account for 30% of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries.  Young female drivers account for 28% of the total costs.  More compelling are the statistics regarding teen fatalities.  In 2013, more than 2,000 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes and more than 240,000 were treated in emergency departments. But, who is responsible for these unfortunate consequences of teen driving?

Holding parents financially responsible

In general terms, parents are considered to be in charge of their children’s actions.  That means that parents are responsible for accidents their children may cause.  “Vicarious liability” is the legal doctrine that was historically used to hold parents financially responsible for a careless child.  However, this strict theory of liability is no longer followed today.  Yet, there are still a number of theories under which parents can be held responsible for the damages caused by teen drivers.

Claims against a Teen Driver

Now, a teenage driver can be held financially responsible for his or her own involvement in an auto accident.  A victim can seek compensation for injuries caused by a teen driver directly, or through his or her insurance carrier.  A direct claim against the teen driver is typically based on “negligence.” Under this theory, a teenager who fails to drive in a reasonably safe manner can be held at fault, and will receive no special treatment simply because of their age.

Claims against the teen’s parents

In addition to filing a suit directly against the teen driver, it is also possible to bring a claim against the parents, as well.  Claims against the parents are often based on one of two scenarios:  either the parent knew that his or her child would likely cause and accident, but did not take any action to prevent it; or the parent loaned the car to the negligent teen.

If you have questions regarding teen drivers, or any other personal injury matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at Means Gillis Law, PC, either online or by calling toll free at 1-844-870-1777

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