parents responsible for teen child driving accident

Can Parents Be Held Liable for a Car Accident Caused by Their Teenage Child?

Nothing makes drivers quite as nervous as realizing that they’re sharing the road with a teen driver. There’s a reason that people will plan their entire commutes to avoid the high school at the start and end of the school day, and it all comes down to the reputation of teenage drivers.

If you get hurt in an accident caused by a teenager, you may wonder what your options are. Can you only recover what the teenage driver can personally pay, or can you seek compensation from their parents? Learn more about your options now by calling Burns, Cunningham & Mackey at 800-574-4332.

Dangers of Teen Driving

While teens often believe they get unfairly blamed for the state of American roads, statistics do show that teenagers are considerably less safe than adult drivers. Teenagers are much more likely to drive while distracted, particularly when it comes to using their phones while driving.

Teenagers also lack the experience and judgment needed to respond to changes in traffic or weather. Car accidents are a top cause of death for teenagers, and unfortunately, a shocking amount of those crashes involve an impaired teenage driver.

If you’re worried about an accident with a teen driver, you’re not alone. There are options for you if you are concerned about getting the compensation you deserve.

Alabama’s Parental Responsibility Laws

After an accident, victims often turn to their state’s parental responsibility laws. Alabama’s parental responsibility law states that, in some circumstances, parents and guardians can be held financially responsible for damage caused by their child. However, the statute only makes them liable for damage “caused by the intentional, willful, or malicious act or acts of the minor.” Unless you can prove that the teenager intentionally caused the accident—which is pretty rare—this statute will likely not be helpful to you.

Parental Negligence

You may be able to hold the parents accountable by showing how parental negligence caused the crash. The parents may be held liable for their teen’s actions if they knew the teenager was at risk of driving unsafely and still allowed them to drive. If the teenager had a history of driving while impaired, getting speeding tickets, or driving while distracted, it would be reasonable for the parent to revoke their driving privileges. If the parent acted negligently in allowing their teenager to drive, you may be able to seek compensation through that avenue.

Insurance Coverage

In most cases, you don’t need to be too concerned about parental liability. The vast majority of teenagers are covered under their parents’ insurance plan, which allows you to get compensation without having to collect directly from the teenager or parents. Some parents even add additional coverage when their teen starts driving in anticipation of situations like these.

If the other driver is covered under their parents’ insurance policy, it’s just a matter of proving liability, demonstrating damages, and getting the insurance company to offer a fair settlement amount. This is far easier than trying to find a way to sue the parents directly for the crash.

It is still highly recommended that you retain the services of an experienced personal injury attorney in this situation. Proving liability is challenging. Even if you can do that on your own, negotiating with an insurance company is often a fruitless task for accident victims. Insurance companies go to extraordinary lengths to avoid paying out a fair settlement, and they often won’t negotiate in good faith until they are forced to by an attorney.

Your attorney can track down information on the other party’s insurance coverage and start building a case for you. By taking over negotiations for you, they give you more time to heal and recuperate from your injuries. It’s important to contact an attorney promptly after your accident to preserve evidence and get your case started.

Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim with Burns, Cunningham & Mackey

If you’ve been hurt in a crash caused by a teenage driver, turn to the team at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey. We know how stressful these situations can be and we fight for fair compensation for every single client. Get started now by calling us at 800-574-4332 or contacting us online.

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