Car accidents are serious and stressful, no matter who is behind the wheel. In the event a teenager is driving, these types of situations can become even more complicated. Teenagers are considered “at risk” drivers, namely due to the fact they are new to driving. While many think they know better and are great drivers from the start, this is not always the case. Teenagers often drive with reckless abandonment and too much confidence, resulting in serious accidents and injuries. If your teenager has been involved in an accident, you may be wondering who is held responsible. Once they have the keys in their hands and jump behind the wheel, teenagers with a valid driving license are responsible for whatever happens. However, many states are looking towards implementing tighter restrictions for teen drivers.
According to statistics, teen drivers are more likely to get in an accident during their first couple of years behind the wheel. That being said, who should have to pay when a mistake is made by the teen driver – the teen’s parents or the operator of the vehicle? The answer to this question is more complicated than many people realize. Liability will depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident, which is why it is a good idea to have a reliable attorney by your side. When someone gets behind the wheel of a car, their main duty is to avoid injury to others and be an alert driver. In the event a driver is negligent, distracted, or impaired and causes an accident, there will be repercussions. If this person happens to be a teen, there is a chance the driver’s parents will be held liable. Here is a look at a few of the circumstances in which a teen driver’s parents can be held liable for an accident they caused:
- The parent knowingly gives a teen permission to drive, even though they know he or she is reckless and not competent to drive
- The parent does not supervise their teen driver
- The teen works for their parents and the accident took place while the teen was performing a work duty
- The teen is driving the family car for family reasons with consent from at least one parent
It is important to keep in mind that some of the circumstances listed above have gray areas, which is yet another reason why it is important to consult an attorney. There is also something called the “Family Purpose Doctrine” that can come into play with teen driver accident. Under this doctrine, a teen’s parents are summed to be exercising authority over their child. So, if the teen causes an accident while living under their roof, the parents may be held liable. There are other tricky circumstances that change liability, such as if your teen crashes a friend’s car. In this instance, the owner of the vehicle is responsible under “vicarious liability”.
We receive numerous questions regarding liability in teen driver car accidents. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:
- My teen was involved in a car accident, but we do not believe he or she was at fault. How should we proceed?
- Who decides whether my teen is an incompetent driver?
- In the event I am not held responsible for my teen’s accident, what will happen to them?
- At what point do I need a lawyer?
- Can my teenage child be sued or arrested?
To learn more about accidents involving teenagers, please contact Atkins & Markoff today. Our Oklahoma personal injury lawyers will answer any questions you have and help you move forward with your case.