Parental Liability in Teen Driving Accidents
A collision with a teen driver can be nerve-wracking, confusing, and stressful. Teen drivers naturally do not have the years of experience that adult drivers have and may speed, make reckless turns, or even use drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel, increasing the severity of an accident. While your PIP insurance may cover some of your medical bills, you may be forced to file a claim against a teen driver’s insurance to receive compensation. In some cases, you may also have a claim against the teen’s parents.
Do Parents Share Liability With Their Children?
Parents naturally want to look out for their children and will often take the reins of any legal matter that comes their way. But in Massachusetts, most parents do not have a choice when it comes to liability. Many parents let teen drivers operate their vehicles until they move out or purchase a vehicle of their own. In any case, if a parent allows a teen to use a vehicle that the parent owns, then the parent can share some liability in a teen driving accident.
In the same way that an employer is liable for hiring a driver with a history of auto accidents, parents can also be held liable if they were aware that their child drove recklessly. If a teenager had a history of speeding or texting while driving, then the parents can be held liable for allowing him or her to get behind the wheel. This is especially true under Massachusetts’s social host laws, which hold parents liable for allowing underage drivers to drink at parties and letting them get behind the wheel.
However, parents may not be the only party held liable after a teen driving accident. Massachusetts’s dram shop laws acknowledge that business owners, including bars and liquor store owners, can be held liable for underage drunk driving accidents when they allow underage patrons to purchase alcohol.
How Will Parental Liability Impact My Claim?
Parental liability means that you may be eligible to file a lawsuit with the parents for your injuries. When a teen is involved in a car accident, his or her insurance may act as the primary form of compensation for a victim, but serious accidents may go beyond an insurance policy’s limits. After exhausting your PIP insurance, filing a car accident claim, and using your underinsured motorist coverage, you may still have some bills left over, especially if you require long-term care.
Pursuing a lawsuit against a parent for an accident is a difficult decision. While you may be able to secure an award for your injuries, most individuals do not have the available capital to provide compensation. It is important to discuss all of your options with an experienced attorney to determine what is the best route to take.
At DiBella Law Offices, P.C., our Burlington personal injury attorney has decades of experience investigating car accidents and fighting to get his clients the highest possible award in insurance negotiations and jury trials. He can sit down with you in a free consultation, learn how your accident has affected your life, and develop a plan to get you compensation. If you were injured by a teen driver, reach out to us at (781) 262-3338 to get a free case evaluation.