Am I Liable If My Child Causes a Car Accident?

It is a notable point of pride to have a child that is of driving age. Even as they have passed their first few tests with flying colors, they will still face risks on the road just like any other driver. Because of these risks, there are numerous factors for you to consider when you allow your child to operate a vehicle on public roads, especially if that car is yours. Further, if they were to be the cause of an accident, you may face legal liabilities. To prepare yourself for such circumstances, see the information below.

What to Know About Liability When Your Child Drives Your Car

Generally, you can expect to avoid any assignment of liability if your child is the cause of an accident. If you were not directly responsible for the collision, you are likely to leave the case without any legal responsibility to claim fault. If your child is operating a vehicle that belongs to them or anyone else but you, again, you will not be accountable for the damages based on familial relationships alone. Still, there are circumstances to which this standard does not apply.

For instance, if you allowed your child to use your vehicle, and they drive in a negligent manner that results in a collision, there is a strong possibility that you will be held liable. This negligence can extend to you as well, in the following ways:

  • You may have allowed your child to borrow your vehicle in unsafe conditions (e.g., inclement weather, poor vehicle condition, etc.). Such a decision would be deemed careless, and therefore, negligent on your behalf.
  • You neglected to supervise your child or ensure that they were properly restrained while they were driving irresponsibly.
  • You consented to your child’s negligent behavior either directly or passively.
  • Your child was acting on your behalf, using the vehicle by your request.

One example of the above circustances is if you allowed your child to borrow your vehicle when going to a party. You might expect them to drink or engage in other risky behaviors while at the gathering, yet, you still allowed them to operate your vehicle to travel there.

Will You Be Held Liable?

If any of the above circumstances describe your experience, then it is highly likely that you will be held liable for the accident that your child caused. This is determined not only by your familial relationship, but also by the fact that you are the owner of the vehicle. Many state laws mandate that the owner of a vehicle that is involved in an accident, in which the driver is determined to be at fault, is legally responsible for the damages. For this reason, you should always have your child included on your insurance policy, to ensure that you are covered when such accidents arise.

If your child has recently experienced a car accident and you are unsure of whose at fault, get in touch with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They will assist you in avoiding devastating financial penalties, and help to get the charges reduced to maintain your financial security through this difficult time.

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