Car Accident Liability: Who’s at fault if my child gets into a car accident?

By: Glen Wieland

Source: State Farm
Source: State Farm

A common question that clients have and should have is: If children get into a car accident, are the parents responsible?  As children grow up and are ready to start driving on their own, parents need to know that if their child is driving  a car owned by their parents, the parents are responsible if a car accident occurs. Therefore, the parent’s insurance would go up or be cancelled in the event of an accident where the child was at fault.

Any child under the age of 18 can only get a driver’s license if the parent or guardian is willing to sign a permission form.  Under Florida law, parents can cancel their child’s license at any time by revoking the permission form. Note that during the first year of driving, one in every 5 licensed 16 year-olds will be in a crash. (Source: Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.) This means that there is a 20% chance that your child will get into a car accident in the first year of acquiring a license, which increases your car accident liability.

Years ago Ann Landers posted in one of her articles that parents should consider entering into a written contract that outlines the responsibilities and consequences of driving a vehicle. This is a great way to help prevent accidents from occurring and educating your child about the dangers of driving a car. This contract covers everything from the child agreeing that no one else can drive the vehicle entrusted to them, to transporting people that have been approved by the parent.  To assist you, we have a sample Driving Contract that you can reference.

Parents need to stress to their children that driving is a privilege and not a right.  We hope that by doing so your car accident liability will be greatly reduced.

Good luck to all parents out there and don’t forget to teach your children that safety is a priority when it comes to operating an automobile. If you have any additional questions or need assistance with creating your own Driving Contract, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Orlando car accident lawyers at Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre.

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