Are Parents Liable for an Accident Caused by Their Teen?
Oct. 11, 2023
Car accidents are an unfortunate part of life. Some of them result in minor damage, others in serious injuries, and some even tragically end in the loss of life. When teenage drivers are behind the wheel, the risk of accidents increases. In fact, according to crash data cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, teen drivers (ages 16-19) are almost four times more likely to be involved in accidents than drivers aged 20 years or older.
If your teenager has caused an accident, you may have questions about your level of personal liability in the situation. Can you be held responsible? Can you actually be sued?
At The Law Offices of Peter Meyer, P.C., we are dedicated to guiding individuals and families through stressful legal matters, including instances of teen drivers being involved in—or causing—car accidents. If you or your teenage son or daughter have been in an accident and need guidance regarding liability and your legal options, we are here to help. Reach out to our team today to schedule a consultation to discuss your situation.
We proudly serve clients in Macon and Savannah, Georgia, and anywhere throughout the counties of Bibb, Houston, Laurens, Chatham, Peach, Twiggs, Jones, Dodge, Telfair, Wheeler, Bulloch, Candler, and Bleckley.
Liability for Accidents in Georgia
Gaining a better understanding of your situation starts with becoming familiar with how car accident liability is handled in your state. The state of Georgia is a “fault state,” which means liability for the accident is assigned to one or more parties, and these parties will bear the financial responsibility for the accident.
When an accident occurs, the parties involved will typically go through their respective insurance providers—while often being represented by attorneys—to work through the claim process. Sometimes such claims can be negotiated and settled without litigation, but other times issues arise that lead to more serious legal matters.
Can Parents Be Held Liable for Accidents Caused by Their Teens?
While parents may not automatically be held responsible, there are three notable factors that must be considered when it comes to parents being held liable for an accident caused by their child:
Negligent Entrustment — If one or both parents allowed a teen driver to use their vehicle while knowing the child should not be entrusted to drive, this can lay a foundation for parents to face legal liability.
Signing Liability Agreement — For minor drivers, parents are required to sign documentation to accept liability in order for the teen to obtain a driver’s license.
Vicarious Liability — Under this legal principle, a parent may potentially be held liable if they directed the teen driver to perform a task on behalf of the family.
Each case is different, which is why no concrete guarantee can be made regarding parental liability. Consulting with an attorney will provide more clarity regarding your specific situation.
Will Insurance Cover the Expense?
In most cases, teen drivers are covered under their parents’ insurance policy, but you will need to contact your insurance provider and consult with your attorney to determine the specifics of your policy and how it affects your unique case.
Can a Parent Be Sued in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
In short, the answer is yes. In many cases, if there is less insurance coverage available to pay for damages to the injured party, there may be an increased likelihood that a personal injury lawsuit could be an option—including holding the parents or legal guardians of the driver financially responsible.
Learn More About Your Legal Options
The aftermath of any car accident—whether you were responsible for it or not—can be difficult to navigate. When it was your teenage son or daughter behind the wheel, things can quickly become much more challenging and leave you wondering whether or not you can be held legally liable for the crash. With the help of an experienced law firm, you can maintain a level of peace of mind and confidence that your rights will be protected throughout the process.
When you are in need of legal representation or assistance in the wake of a car accident caused by your teenage driver, our team is ready to hear your story and explain all of the options available to you. If you are located in Macon or Savannah, Georgia—or throughout the counties of Bleckley, Candler, Bulloch, Wheeler, Telfair, Dodge, Jones, Twiggs, Peach, Chatham, Laurens, Houston, or Bibb—contact us at The Law Offices of Peter Meyer, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.