A parent’s worst nightmare is to receive a call that their teen is involved in an accident. Although accidents are common for all drivers, teenagers are in a category all their own when it comes to auto accidents and personal injury.
Let’s face it teens today have more distractions than any other generation before them. Mobile phones, studio quality stereos, 160-200 mph speedometers, and friends can lead to a Molotov cocktail of trouble if they aren’t careful.
When you hand over the keys to your teen’s first car, you are transferring a lot of responsibility that could affect both of you. You may be subject to liability for their actions.
Your Teen Is A Motorist
Once your teen is licensed, they have a duty and responsibility to themselves, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. And, if their commitment is lacking through reckless behavior, they and, or you will be accountable for their actions. Some of the legal proceedings can include covering medical bills, personal injury, pain and suffering, loss of income and other losses as a result of the crash.
You Could Be Held Responsible
It is possible. In some states, including Florida, there are legal concepts that could hold you responsible for the actions of your teen behind the wheel. One such concept is “vicarious liability.” It is the idea that the parent is in effect the owner of the car and the guardian of the child and can be held liable for their actions. The concept may still carry weight if a teen or any other person borrows your car, although, there are parameters on the severity of the liability and compensation.
Talking To You Teen
One way to prevent teen-related auto accidents is to have an open dialog with your teen. Discuss proper driving procedures and parent expectations. Explain their duties and responsibilities as licensed drivers and enforce the idea that driving is a privilege and it can be dangerous if they aren’t careful.
5 Facts About Teen Driving
Your teen’s safety is paramount. Here are five facts about teen drivers that can be used to explain the importance of safe driving and responsible driving habits from DoSomething.org.
- 16-year-olds are more likely to be in an accident that any other age group
- 56 percent of teens admit to talking on the phone while driving
- Adolescents who have involved parents are two times as likely to wear a seat belt.
- 1 in 5 16-year-olds are involved in an auto accident in their first year of driving
- More than 40 percent of vehicle deaths involving teens occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Questions for Your Attorney
If your teen has been in an accident, you may feel unsure about your next steps. A personal injury lawyer may be able to help. Here are some simple questions to ask:
- My teen was in an accident, but insists they weren’t at fault. Will she or I still be held liable?
- What are Florida’s laws involving minor drivers and parent liability?
- If I am not found responsible for my teen’s accident, will they be sued instead?