Skip to main content

As a parent, you’ve probably been waiting for the day when your teen holds their driver’s license in their hands. Now they can finally hang with friends, catch a movie at the theater, or go shopping at the mall, all on their own. No need to chauffeur them around town when they can drive themselves.

Even so, young drivers can be a liability on the road, especially to their parents. You may be wondering what the parental responsibility is in the case of an accident. If the thought has ever crossed your mind, look no further. Read on for the full scoop when it comes to liability and your role as their parent and guardian.

To be clear, fault will typically fall to the driver of the vehicle responsible for the accident. Whether that’s an adult who’s been driving for decades or a teen driver who got their license yesterday, fault holds the same weight regardless of the driver’s experience level. Depending on the circumstances of the wreck and the history of the driver, however, the parents are not entirely off the hook either.

Negligence is one of the biggest things to watch for as your child begins driving. If your teen has a history of reckless driving, speeding tickets, or even prior accidents, then you might be partially responsible for any further damage they cause. Allowing a minor who has a poor driving record can easily be seen as negligence on the parents’ part.

Let’s say you ask your teen driver to go out and run some errands on your behalf. Who is liable if an accident were to occur along the way? One may argue that the driver is the sole perpetrator, but some states would hold the parents liable for any damages caused. Why? The child was using the car on behalf of their family, so they are partially covered under the umbrella.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if the driver had your explicit permission to use the car or not. It’s fairly difficult to prove that anyway. Suppose your child were to sneak off with the car or take it off-route to some unapproved pit stops. Liability for any accident, even those that occur beyond the scope of your knowledge or consent, would fall to the parent.

For parents whose teen has been in an accident, we recommend seeking legal representation, especially if there is significant injury or property damage. Wayne Hardee Law is here to help! Turn to us for professional legal assistance in your personal injury case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an attorney!