Although teenage drivers only represent a small fraction of all drivers on the road, they account for a far larger share of all motor vehicle accidents. Teen drivers are much more likely than adults to be involved in car crashes. In many of these accidents, the teen driver is at fault for the crash due to their inexperience behind the wheel or negligent or reckless operation of their vehicle. When a teen driver is responsible for causing a car accident, it raises the question of who can be held liable for the injuries and damages that result from the accident. Continue reading to find out if parents are responsible if their teen is in a car accident in Florida.
Parental Liability for Teen Crashes
Parents can be held responsible when their children’s actions cause injury or property damage. Generally speaking, parents are expected to supervise their children. If a parent is negligent in their supervision of their children and it results in their children being able to cause harm or damage to others, the parent may be held liable.
A parent may also be held vicariously liable for entrusting a vehicle to a teen driver who then causes a motor vehicle accident.
Having Teenagers on the Insurance Policy
Every driver added to an insurance policy is deemed to be an authorized driver for every vehicle listed on the policy. Many insurance companies require teenagers who are licensed to drive to be added to their parents’ or guardian’s auto insurance policy. Of course, if a teen is on an insurance policy and causes an accident, then the insurer will step up to cover the damages caused by the accident.
However, if a teen driver who resides with the vehicle’s owner is not listed on the insurance policy, the insurance company is likely to deny coverage in the event the teen causes an accident with the insured vehicle. In addition, the teen driver may also be cited for not having the legally-required insurance coverage mandated by Florida law.
What If a Teen Didn’t Have Permission to Use the Car?
Normally, if your vehicle is stolen, neither you nor your insurance company can be held liable for damages resulting from an accident caused by the unauthorized driver. Although you may think that the same should be true if your teen doesn’t have permission to use your car, in reality the situation is much more complicated.
If you have expressly told your teen that they do not have permission to drive your vehicles, then you and your insurer may be able to disclaim liability for an accident caused by your teen. For example, if your teen is grounded and the terms of their punishment expressly include not being allowed to drive, and they get behind the wheel while they are grounded anyway, you may have a basis to argue that their use of the vehicle was unauthorized.
However, if you neither told your teen that they did not have permission to drive your car nor expressly told them that they had permission to use your car, insurance companies and courts may later determine that your teen had implied permission to use your vehicles, especially if your teen knew where the vehicle’s keys were located and had access to the keys.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Lawlor, White & Murphey represent clients injured because of car accidents in Coconut Creek, Plantation, Pompano Beach, and Pembroke Pines, and throughout Florida. Call (954) 525-2345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2211 Davie Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312, as well as offices in Pembroke Pines, Weston, Coconut Creek, Plantation, and Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.