Can Parents be Held Liable for Teen Driving Car Accidents? Long Island Accident Attorneys Have the Answer

If your teenager gets into an accident and is found to be at fault, can you be held liable for any injuries or damages suffered by the other party?

Print Email
Teenage drivers typically find themselves in a higher risk category for accidents than many other age groups on the road today, mainly due to their overall lack of experience, skills, and their tendency to get distracted when behind the wheel.
In fact, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has reported that the leading cause of death among people 15-to-24 years of age is vehicle crashes. When you take into account that this specific age group is responsible for over 33 percent of all costs related to car crashes, yet only represents 14 percent of the U.S. population, you gain an understanding of how their collective driving skills have not yet reached a state of maturity.
What are the leading causes of teen vehicle crashes?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that teenage drivers tend to get into accidents are a much higher rate than any other age group. The reason for this varies, but can be narrowed down to a set of typical behaviors based on their lack of maturity and experience on the road:
  • Distracted driving (texting or talking on the phone)
  • Driving while ability impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Driving aggressively (tailgating, excessive speed)
  • Not observing road and traffic conditions
  • Failure to use caution when driving during inclement weather
One thing is normally on the minds of many parents when their child is issued their drivers license and takes their very first unaccompanied drive in the family car: if your teenager gets into an accident and is found to be at fault, can you be held liable for any injuries or damages suffered by the other party? Unfortunately, that answer is usually yes.
Despite the fact that a parent may not have been in the vehicle at the time that the accident occurred, their automobile insurance is typically used to pay for any damages since the teen is more often than not on their parent’s insurance policy, which will likely cover the other party’s damages up to the policy’s limits. 
If the cost of the damages exceeds a parent’s policy limits and they do not have the resources to pay the difference, a parent can pursue a hardship exception – which can be a painstakingly difficult process – if they can prove they do not have the ability to pay.
According to New York Vehicle and Traffic Law § 388, every owner of a vehicle that is used or operated in the state is liable and responsible for death and injuries to a person or property resulting from the negligent actions of any person using or operating that same vehicle with the owner’s permission.
As a result, even if the vehicle owner is not in the car at the time of the accident, they are nonetheless considered liable; this applies to both parents and teens. For example, if a parent lends their car to their teenage driver and that teen subsequently causes an accident, the parent is liable for the resulting damage since they own the vehicle.
Despite that, teenage drivers are not seen any differently under the law as other motorists when it comes to vehicle accidents; if any driver – even a teen – causes an accident due to negligence or recklessness, they will bear responsibility for the resulting damages, especially if they are the owner of the vehicle they were driving.
As a parent of a teen driver, it is imperative that you make sure your automobile insurance policy is completely up-to-date – it can’t hurt to call your insurance company to make sure there are no exclusions regarding teenage drivers, as well as confirming what your policy limits are – and that if you are loaning your car to your child, you do so while exercising great caution.
Instilling safe driving habits in your teen
As a parent, it is important that you instill safe driving habits in your teen driver to help they avoid getting into accidents. Things you can do to safeguard your child include:
  • Talk to them about responsible driving behavior
  • Take your teen driving and help them practice driving in different conditions
  • Set specific safety rules for the use of electronic devices
  • Limit night driving
  • Limit the number of passengers they can have at one time
  • Be a good role model when you are driving
Parents have a great deal of influence over their children, and if you are involved with bid to earn their driver’s license and instilling the proper habits in them from the beginning, you will hopefully be putting a responsible driver on the road when the day comes.
Do you have questions after your teenage child has been in a vehicle accident? Contact the accident attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at 866-878-6774 now or fill out our simple form for a free consultation.