Parents can take steps to limit their possible liability for a car accident caused by their teen driver says Boca Raton car accident attorney Joe Osborne.
Accidents involving teen drivers occur all too often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. If the teen is at fault in an accident and the car’s title is in his or her parents’ names they may face legal liability, says Boca Raton car accident lawyer Joe Osborne on a podcast available on YouTube.
It can be very exciting for a teenager when he or she finally gets that driver’s license, but it starts up worries and concerns for the parents. With this new found freedom and independence comes great responsibility for the teen, who may or may not be able to handle it. Though parents try to teach their teens how to drive properly and instill in them an understanding of driving’s dangers parents may not be thinking about the possible legal and financial impact a vehicle accident might have.
“Florida is a vicarious liability state, which means if you negligently entrust someone with something and someone is hurt as a result, you could be sued. A car is considered a dangerous instrument. Under the doctrine of dangerous instrumentality if a teenager negligently drives a car and injures somebody the owner of that vehicle is also potentially negligent and could be brought into a lawsuit,” Osborne says. Depending on the circumstances a judgment against a negligent party in a personal injury case can range from thousands to millions of dollars.
“If a father or mother buys a car for a teenager and the ownership documents are in the name of the parents, the parents can become just as liable as the teenager when someone is injured in a car crash caused by the teen,” car accident attorney Osborne warns.
“When the vehicle is purchased in the names of the parents, which typically needs to occur especially for cars bought from a dealership, after the purchase the ownership document, the title, could be changed so the teenager’s name is on it,” Osborne suggests.
“You can go down to the DMV and typically you can schedule an appointment. It can be done within 30 minutes and you can really buy peace of mind because under the doctrine of vicarious liability if your teenager injures somebody in an accident your assets can come into play to compensate injured victims. If someone is seriously injured all the hard work that you put in for your entire life and your savings may be at risk.”
“We had a case where a father called me really in panic because his son was driving on a Friday night doing everything he was supposed to be doing but took a left turn and had a fender bender with a motorcycle. The teenager got out of the car, not thinking the impact was very big but unfortunately on that motorcycle was a female who was riding on the back. The impact amputated her foot which led to her having her entire leg amputated,” Osborne says.
The motorcycle driver and passenger sued the car driver as well as his father because he had left the car in his name, putting himself in the middle of the lawsuit because of the doctrine of vicarious liability.
If you or a family member have questions about car accident law or have been injured in an auto accident in the South Florida area, contact Boca Raton car accident lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your injuries.