Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by a Teen Driver?
About every 10 minutes, a teenage driver is involved in a crash in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Highway Safety Administration. Even though teens only account for six percent of licensed drivers in the state, they are involved in about 13 percent of crashes every year.
The question of liability quickly comes to mind when an accident involving a teen driver happens. Below, the car accident lawyers in New Jersey discuss parental liability for New Jersey crashes caused by teenage drivers.
Parental Responsibility for a Child’s Actions
Parents have a certain amount of responsibility for their child’s actions. For example, parents may be held liable if they were negligent in properly supervising their children and their children intentionally cause harm to another person or someone else’s property.
Parents can also be held liable under the legal theory of vicarious liability. For example, if a parent entrusts a vehicle to a teenager for a certain purpose and a crash happens, the parent could be held vicariously liable. Parents could even be held liable if the child does not carry out the task he or she was entrusted with, such as if the teenager goes to a friend’s house instead of running an errand for his or her parent.
Liability for Teen Drivers’ Actions
Once a person is added to an insurance policy, he or she is authorized to drive the insured vehicle. Most insurance policies require households with teen drivers who have a driving permit to be added. At this point, if the teen driver is on the insurance policy, he or she is covered in case an accident occurs.
Keep in mind that New Jersey is a no-fault state. This means liability for property damage will be claimed through the at-fault driver’s insurance – if your teenager causes a crash, your insurance policy should cover property damage. However, medical expenses should be covered by the other driver’s personal injury protection (PIP), up to the limits of the policy. If the victim’s medical bills exceed the limits of the PIP coverage, he or she may file a claim against your policy for the difference.
What if the Teenager did not Have Permission?
If your car was stolen, it is unlikely you would be held financially liable for damages caused by a crash. However, what if your teenager drove your car without your explicit permission?
This is where things could get much more complicated. Even if you did not tell your teenager he or she had permission to use your car, maybe you left the keys somewhere where they were easy for your teenager to find. In this case, it would be difficult to argue you didn’t give your teenager implied permission to use the car.
This is where it can be very important to seek input from an experienced attorney.
Keeping Your Teen Driver Safe
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has tips for parents who have children who are beginning to learn how to drive or are already behind the wheel. The administration suggests talking with your teen about crashes involving teenage drivers. This could have a sobering effect on the risk of injury and even death, along with the risk of distracted driving, which is quite common among teenage drivers. It is also important for parents to model good driving behavior in front of their teenagers.
Call a Knowledgeable Attorney Today
The attorneys at the Lynch Law Firm, PC understand that filing an accident claim is stressful. That is why our attorneys offer a free consultation to discuss your claim to see how we may be able to help you. We also do not charge you anything unless we recover compensation on your behalf.
Call us today to schedule your free consultation at (800) 518-0508