Legal Guide

Could Parents Be Responsible For The Car Accident Sins Of Their Teens?

Teenagers today are much different than they were just one short decade ago. A time in your life where nothing seems real, or where you are unable to comprehend things like mortality or to see danger or consequences, it poses legal issues for parents. If you are the parent of a teen, who makes poor choices, which almost all of them do, whose responsibility is it? If you teach them right from wrong, a parent can’t follow them around forever making sure that they are always following the law and doing what they are supposed to.

A San Diego DUI defense attorney can concur that the laws that make parents responsible for the actions of their children in car accidents where they are distracted is no different from laws that make parents responsible when children are at their home and are served alcohol. Even if a parent is not present, if a child gets into a car and drives home drunk from a party that is unwittingly held at a parent's house, they can be held liable and face jail time.

The risk of teenage drivers is so high that the CDC estimates that reckless and distracted driving is responsible for the most deaths in teens from the age of 15-24. Making matters worse, although only making up fourteen percent of drivers on the road, they account for about 30% of the total cost of car accident injuries. Where do those costs go? Likely, they are passed along to the parents who hold the ultimate responsibility according to the law.

Legally, teen drivers are held to the same liability when it comes to car accidents. If they are at fault, they have the legal obligation to pay for any damages caused. Although fair in the court system, that doesn’t typically translate as it should. Because parents are the ones who have purchased the cars for their children, all the financial fault and responsibility falls on their shoulders. Since the driver is not the one that is targeted, but the owner of the vehicle, that means that it all goes back to the pockets of parents who supply their children with cars to drive around.

When there is a car accident whoever is at fault is responsible for the damages. Typically, the insurance of the person who is at fault will pay for damages, but there are instances where they will exceed the allotted amount, or the insurance company will have a high deductible that will be your child’s responsibility if they were issued a ticket. Since your child is not legally responsible for their own actions or finances until they turn 18, from the time they get their license until then, it is the parent’s responsibility.

There are many instances where parents are held accountable for the things that their children do both emotionally and financially and driving an automobile is no different. If you have a child who drives a car that is registered in your name, there are specific things that you need to do to ensure that you have limited liability if something should happen. The best way to protect yourself is not to let teens drive in cars that are registered under their parent’s name. That includes those who are over the age of 18. Whether they are 18 or 80, if the car is registered in your name, then the ultimate responsibility will fall onto the parents’, lap.

If you want to allow your child to have a car, the best way to ensure that you and your assets are protected, is to gift the car to your child and have them put it in their name. That will not affect the way that you insure the car. In fact, you get the same liability insurance that you would if you owned the car yourself. If your teen does get into a car accident and it is registered in their name, the laws of vicarious liability, or it bouncing back to you, could not happen.

The best way to ensure that you are insured correctly is to make the right legal decisions when you hand your kids your car keys. Don’t make the assumption that if the automobile is insured, you won’t bear any responsibility. There are ways to protect yourself against some pretty hefty consequences; you just have to know what to do and how to take legal steps to shift the responsibility.

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