Teens learning how to drive, or who have received learner’s permits enabling them to drive, usually do so using the family car. This can cause the parents stress as they try not to imagine all the dangers of teen driving, and hoping that their child will practice safe driving and avoid getting into car accidents. Few parents think of the potential liability they may face if their child gets into a car accident while driving the family car.
Most parents add their teen drivers as covered drivers under their automobile insurance policies as soon as the teens start to drive. Therefore, in the case of a minor accident or one in which only minimal injuries are suffered, the insurance policies will be adequate to cover the losses. However, if a person is injured in an accident caused by a negligent teen driver, and suffers injuries that permit them to file a personal injury lawsuit under Florida law, the parents may be held personally liable.
What it comes down to is an evaluation of the control the parent exerts over the teen in terms of permitting and supervising the teen driver. In Florida, parents are required to sign a consent form and give their permission in order for the teen driver to get the driving permit. This consent goes beyond the giving of permission for the permit, and means that the parent is accepting responsibilities for car accidents negligently or willfully caused by their child. The parent can be held jointly liable for any financial costs the teen has to pay. The parental responsibility under this Florida law only lasts as long as the child is under the age of eighteen years old.
Parents can also be held liable if they allow their children to drive knowing that the children are not particularly responsible or are more likely to cause accidents. For example, if a parent is aware that their child is a reckless driver, regularly drives while texting, or drinks and drives, and still allows the child access to a car and does not withdraw consent for the child to drive, then the parent can be held responsible.
Finally, a parent may be found liable for the negligent accident caused by a teen driver if the teen is driving a car owned by the parent. Florida statutory law limits the parent’s liability under this theory. This would apply in situations where the teen is driving the family car, titled to the parents, or a car that is co-owned by the teen and the parents.
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If you have been injured by a negligent driver, especially a negligent teen driver, you may have different options for seeking compensation from the teen driver or the teen’s parents. Depending on the seriousness of the injuries suffered, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit to seek the compensation you deserve. For more information, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer at Vocelle & Berg, LLP, in Vero Beach, Florida for a free consultation.