Is a Teen Driver Liable for Damages in an Auto Accident?

teen driver

Teenagers are a high-risk category when it comes to driving. That is why parents experience heightened insurance premiums the moment when they add their teen driver to the policy. Most states recognize the danger as well, which is why parents or guardians can be legally liable for damages caused by their teen drivers.
When a teen driver injures someone, the victim may wonder if he or she has a case against the parent through the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. In these cases, it is important to familiarize yourself with the process of holding a parent accountable for the child’s actions, but you must also speak with an attorney to explore your options and understand your rights.

Teen Drivers Do Not Receive Special Privileges

From the moment they are allowed to drive, teen drivers are expected to uphold the same standard of care while driving as their parents. That is because the state of Georgia expects all licensed drivers to owe a duty of care to the public, including other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and property in the area.
If a teen driver breaches this expected duty, such as driving recklessly, and someone is injured as a result, civil liability takes over. This means that the teen driver (and usually the insurer) is liable for your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Because parents are often the policyholders, they may experience heightened premiums and penalties from their insurers once a settlement is reached.

Vicarious Liability and Parents or Guardians of Teen Drivers

Vicarious liability applies in the state of Georgia, as well as most states in the country. This law holds a parent or guardian responsible for the actions of a teen driver. This liability/responsibility begins when:

  • When the teen causes a motor vehicle action;
  • The point when the teen becomes a licensed driver or when a co-signed agreement is made between the driver and parent; or
  • In both instances.

If the parent or guardian is not in contact with the teen at the time of the accident – in other words, he or she cannot supervise the teen’s actions – then the parent may escape vicarious liability.

Filing Claims Against the Teen’s Parents or Guardians

In most cases, it makes financial sense to file a claim against the parents or guardians of the teen, rather than against the teen. However, parents still must have a level of responsibility in the incident. For example, if a parent knows that the child does not have sufficient night driving experience but lets them drive anyway at night, and the child causes an accident, parents are responsible.
If parents know about the risk that a teen driver poses to society, they could be financially responsible for the damages. Knowledge of poor driving habits, however, is not easy to prove.

Injured by a Teen Driver? Contact an Atlanta Personal Injury Attorney

After an accident with a teen driver, it is important to explore your options and speak with a qualified personal injury advocate. The team at Van Sant Law, can help. Schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys today by calling 404-991-5950 or completing our online contact form and someone will be in touch with you shortly.

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