Teen car crashes and parental responsibility

Obtaining a driver’s license is an important step in the life of teenagers and parents may regard it as an exciting step towards adulthood or with trepidation.


As a parent, you take care of the needs of your children from birth. You try to do everything in your power to protect them and make sure they are healthy and happy. The parental relationship, particularly in the case of minors, means that you can be held responsible for the actions of your child.

When it’s time for your teen to go to driving school for the exam that will issue a driver’s license if passed, most parents will feel a pang of anxiety. And when your teen starts driving, there may be a few sleepless nights. This is all normal and if your concern is limited to a bit of normal parental apprehension, so much the better.

Unfortunately, when it comes to driving, teenage drivers are at three times the risk of dying in a car crash than someone in their twenties or older.

Depending on the circumstances of an automobile accident, parents may take legal responsibility for damage, injury, and even death to the car occupants or pedestrian victims if their teen was behind the wheel.

The rules of the road

Although your teenager is only sixteen or seventeen when he starts driving, and therefore is a minor, he is still obliged to obey the law like everyone else. They need to be careful when driving, and it doesn’t matter if they have less experience or driving skills or are immature once they pull out of your driveway.

If they fail to exercise care and caution while driving, causing property damage, personal injury, or even death, they will be liable for damages, repairs, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other loss resulting from a car accident.

Knowledge of parents and resulting responsibility

The legal theory of negligent mandate supports the responsibility of a parent when they know or should know that their teenager poses a threat to other drivers or road users when driving. If the teenager has already been involved in other accidents or received a ticket for speeding, reckless driving or similar and the parents still allow the child to use the car, they may very well be responsible for the expenses resulting from ‘an accident.

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Parental authority and family purpose or use

Often called the Doctrine of family use, this concept supports parental responsibility if an accident occurs while the teen is running an errand for a parent such as buying milk or picking up dry cleaning because the teen was driving under the direction of the parent. This may vary depending on where you live, but all that is needed is evidence that the parent controlled the teen’s use of the family automobile. And if your teen takes a detour on the way home, it won’t make a difference if the teen is the cause of the accident.

Take responsibility

Several states require parents to assume any potential liability for their teens causing accidents at the time a teen applies for a driver’s license. In states like California and Florida, parents must sign the driver’s license application.

Insurance cover

Some states may require you to have personal injury protection insurance before you can drive. This can be vital when allowing an inexperienced teenage driver to take the wheel. Whether or not your teenager is at fault, the insurer pays damages if the teenager has been added to your coverage and has a valid driver’s license. According to the policy, the PIP can cover lost wages and medical expenses incurred.

Some states’ insurance policies may even pay for the damage, pain, and suffering caused by the accident. The main exception will be if the conduct of the young person is identified as criminal.

Can you buy auto insurance at 17?

Sometimes parents think that buying separate insurance for a teenager can save money, but remember that teenagers are considered high risk when driving, which means you go spend some money because it’s expensive. Calculate your car insurance costs beforehand.

They may also feel like they won’t be responsible for their teenager’s accident this way. Unfortunately a 17 year old is still a minor so a parent or guardian must sign the policy. With this signature, the parent becomes responsible.

Depending on where you live, your teen may also not be able to own a car, either by purchase or by transfer of ownership. It is important to contact your local motor vehicle department to receive all the necessary information in this regard.

An exciting step into adulthood – hopefully accident free.

Obtaining a driver’s license is an important step in the life of teenagers and parents may regard it as an exciting step towards adulthood or with trepidation. We hope that there will be no accidents, no damage, and above all no victims. Parents should realize, however, that they will potentially be responsible and liable for any type of damage, whether personal or property, if their teen is the driver of an automobile accident.