Our children are a reflection of us as parents, which is great when they are behaving and growing into young men and women that make us proud. But children make mistakes – it’s part of growing up. The problem is that most people, both adults and children, don’t realize that in some cases the parents can be held legally responsible for these mistakes. Parental Liability…
Depending on the state where the incident occurred, parents can be held liable for intentional actions their children made that caused damage to property or person. They can also be held liable for accidents that their children caused.
Parental responsibility laws may hold the parent accountable for an accident caused by their child when they were driving, but there are 4 things that need to be proven to establish a case of parental liability in a court of law.
4 Factors to Show Parental Liability
Since parents have a legal duty to supervise their children while they are minors, this duty has extended to teaching them how to behave as young drivers. When the child deviates from this behavior and causes an accident, the parent can be held responsible if these 4 factors can be proven:
1. Negligent entrustment can be proven.
If the parent(s) knew that their child should not have been driving because he or she was a danger to others on the road, they can be held liable for their teen’s accident. This might be because the child had a history of repeatedly causing accidents, had no experience driving the type of vehicle they were driving (for instance, a motorcycle or big truck), or was on a medication that should not have been used by someone when they are driving.
2. The parents had legal custody of the minor child at the time of the accident.
Without a direct line of legal custody, a parent cannot be held responsible for the child’s actions. The child also had to have been under 18 at the time of the accident and thus qualify as a minor. Knowledgeable personal injury attorneys, like those at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, know exactly how to look for these facts and investigate thoroughly.
3. The teen was driving while pursuing a family purpose.
Considered vicarious liability, this factor proves that the child was driving under the authority of the parent. In short, this means that the parent had control over the teenage driver’s use of the vehicle. It may have been that they were heading for an errand for the parent or authorized to use the vehicle to go to school. Whatever the purpose was, if the parent allowed the child to take the car, they can be held liable.
4. The state they reside in allows parents to be held liable.
Many states allow parents of minors to be held accountable for their child’s actions, including accidents caused while driving. Some states even require parents to legally sign the assumption of minor liability when the child gets their first driver’s license application.
Proving Parental Liability in a Court of Law Can Help Your Case
While minors can’t always be held accountable for their actions, proving parental liability can ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for injuries caused by a young driver. Your personal injury attorney can show these four factors in court to build your case for you.
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