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When can teen drivers be held liable for car accidents?

Karns & Kerrison

Teenagers are more likely to be involved in car accidents in Rhode Island, which raises the question of who can be held liable for these accidents.

Depending on why the car accident happened, victims injured in car accidents can hold the other driver liable for their injuries in addition to working with their car insurance company to settle their claim. Victims of car accidents caused by teen drivers may wonder who can be held liable for the car accident as many teen drivers are covered under their parent's car insurance policy. Other teen drivers may not even have car insurance or a driver's license, which can make filing an insurance claim more complicated.

Working with your insurance company after a car accident may seem difficult but here are some basics about who can be held liable after getting into a car accident with a teen driver. Most teen drivers are covered under their parent's car insurance policy and parents can be held liable for damages under the "family car doctrine."

This means that in addition to filing a claim with the other driver's insurance company, victims can pursue legal action against the teen's parents if the teen's negligence or even the parent's negligence contributed to the car accident. Parents could be found negligent for their teen's car accident if their teen exhibited dangerous driving behaviors or was involved in previous car accidents and continued to drive.

Teenagers who are driving without any car insurance coverage can also be held liable through civil lawsuits. Teenagers involved in car accidents who do not have car insurance can face liability claims from victims as well as by the victim's insurance company. Many of these claims aim to collect damages for the victim's injuries as well as damage done to the car or other property. Parents of these teenagers can also face legal action if their child is unable or unwilling to compensate the victim or their insurance company.

Parents aren't the only ones who can be held liable for a teenager's accident. If the teenager was driving someone else's car, the car owner can be held liable for car accidents, even if they were not driving and the person driving was not listed on their insurance policy. In most cases, the car owner's insurance company will be liable for paying any damages for the car accident claim.

Source: FindLaw, "Are Teen Drivers Liable for Car Accidents?" Brett Snider, July 25, 2013

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