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Bagen Law Blog

Am I Liable for my Child’s Car Accident?

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Oct 4, 2012 6:48:00 AM

Being the parent of a teen driver can be a stressful and apprehensive time. New drivers are a very high-risk category of driver; they are inexperienced and maybe a little to eager behind the wheel. Young drivers are involved in thousands of car accidents each year. When you hand over the keys to your car, you often worry about the safety of your child and the financial strain that may occur should something happen. If you’re left wondering who is liable for your child’s car accident, then read on.

When you’re held responsible for your child’s accident

The truth is that there are circumstances in which a parent can be liable for the child’s accident. The parent can be held responsible for negligence use of the vehicle if a few requirements are met. The court can hold the parent responsible for negligence if they are considered the head of the household, and that the vehicle used in the accident is concerned a vehicle used for the comfort or pleasure of the family. The parent must also have given permission, either direct or implied consent, for the child to operate the vehicle. If it can be proven that the child did not have permission to operate the vehicle, courts may rule that the parents are not liable.

Each court will interpret these requirements for liability differently. For example, many courts will define the head of the household differently. The head of the household doesn’t necessarily need to actually reside with the child in question. The child could be away at college, but receiving support from the parent, and this may qualify the parent as the head of the household. The courts will generally take into consideration the owner of the car’s relationship to the child and if the owner is responsible for providing support to the child.

Many parents will argue that they should not be held liable because the car is only used for the convenience of the child, and not for the entire family. However, even if the vehicle is only intended for the sole benefit of the child, the court can still argue that the car is still adding to the comfort or pleasure of the entire family. The fact that the child has been allowed to have his or her own form of transportation provides a convenience to the parents and the rest of the family.

As you can see, the way that these laws are interpreted make car accidents caused by children a very delicate issue for parents. If your child has been involved in an accident, it is important that you seek quality legal counsel as soon as possible to protect yourself and your family.

Topics: Car Accidents, drivers, Car