Can Parents be Held Liable for Teen Driving Car Accidents?

Most California parents recognize that they will be the ones to pick up the pieces if their teen driver causes a car accident. But they may not remember that when they signed a form to help their child get a license, they agreed to be held legally responsible for any damages done by the teen driver they have sponsored.

It’s standard procedure to sign a driver’s license application for your child, but it’s not without risk. Young, inexperienced drivers have higher crash rates than older, more experienced drivers. In California, 83 teen drivers and 164 teens overall died in teen motor vehicle accidents in 2019, according to the CA Office of Traffic Safety. Teen fatalities made up 4.5% of the 3,606 people killed in California auto accidents in 2019.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in the Newport Beach, CA, area caused by a teenage driver, contact a car accident attorney at Sam & Ash, LLP. We can help you recover compensation for your medical costs and other expenses, as well as for your pain and suffering.

Give us a call or reach out online to talk with a knowledgeable lawyer now about the accident and parental liability for teen drivers. Our attorneys know that every car accident case is different. We focus on listening first to make sure we give you the best advice for your specific case.

We’re available 24 hours a day to help you find the best path toward obtaining compensation to make things right after a serious car accident. There is never a legal fee unless we win money for you.

How Teenage Car Crashes Occur

Research indicates that teenage drivers are more likely than older and more experienced drivers to get into car accidents. In 2019, almost 2,400 teens in the United States were killed and about 258,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says, “Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes than adults, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. Teen drivers speed. They make mistakes. They also get distracted easily — especially if their friends are in the car.”

Teen drivers struggle to correctly judge gaps in traffic, drive the right speed for road and traffic conditions, and turn safely, among other things, the National Safety Council says.

Teens are also less likely to use seat belts, which reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, the CDC says.

Teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to get into accidents because they tend to engage in risky driving behaviors, such as:

happy teenage girls driving in car

Parental Liability for a Crash Caused by a Teenage Driver

Most states have laws establishing parents’ legal responsibility for the actions of their underage children. California law (Vehicle Code 17707) specifically addresses the civil liability assumed by anyone who signs a driver’s license application for a minor. It says the parent shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages resulting from the negligent act of the minor in driving a motor vehicle.”

On the California driver’s license application, it states at Item 8, where parents or guardians must sign for an applicant under age 18, “I/We accept civil liability for this minor.” Parents are released from liability once their child turns 18 or if they withdraw their support by filing a Request for Cancellation or Surrender of a Driver License.

Parents are legally responsible for the harm their teenage drivers cause other people or property.
Anyone injured in a car accident in California has the right to seek compensation for their losses from the party responsible for the accident. In most cases, compensation comes from auto liability insurance held by the vehicle owner.

In a California personal injury claim, the injured party may seek compensation for:

  • Medical expenses, including expected future expenses
  • Loss of earnings, including loss of future earnings and the inability to pursue a career
  • Property damage
  • Out-of-pocket expenses incurred because of the injury
  • Pain, suffering, and inconvenience
  • Physical impairment, such as loss of the use of a limb or organ
  • Disfigurements, such as scarring or amputation

Work with an Experienced Newport Beach Car Accident Attorney

As your car accident attorneys, Sam & Ash, LLP would investigate the crash to gather evidence showing who was responsible for the crash. We would calculate your losses and the maximum compensation available to you, and submit a demand letter to the responsible insurance company on your behalf. If the insurer refuses to do What’s Right by you, we would proceed with a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and be prepared to prevail in court.

We recognize that teen driving accidents are devastating for all involved. A family may lose a child who was riding in a car driven by a teen. Innocent drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists may suffer serious injury. We also are mindful of the parents whose teenager has caused injury or death because of bad judgment or a driving error.

Even our badly injured clients sometimes feel uncertain about involving lawyers and possibly the courts in an injury or wrongful death claim centered on a young person’s mistake. At Sam & Ash, we understand what accident victims are going through and will treat you like a person, not a case file. While mindful of everyone’s pain, we’ll put you and your needs first and seek the most direct path to recovering a fair and appropriate settlement for you.

Contact our Newport Beach car accident attorneys if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a teen driver in California. We will hear you out, discuss what compensation you may recover, and help you decide What’s Right for you. We’re here to take care of your needs. Call us today.