Do You Know the Liabilities of Having a Teen Driver?

October 1, 2019

When it comes to having teen drivers, there are a few things that a parent should know. Of course, it is exciting for the teen to finally get to drive, but this often comes with a lot of anxiety for the parents of the teen. We never want to think about our child being in an accident after all. However, there are financial and legal liabilities that a parent needs to be aware of if this ever happens.

Financial Implication of a Teen Driver

As a South Carolina parent, you should know that the way your child behaves on the road could have serious repercussions for you financially, particularly if their actions result in serious injury or death to another driver.

According to South Carolina laws, because parents sign their teen driver’s application for a beginner’s permit, driver’s license, or instruction permit, this makes them severally and jointly liable for any negligence their minor child commits unless an insurance policy covers the child for their negligence. In certain situations, a parent may still be held liable even if they didn’t sign the application for the minor’s license. This is the case if the teen’s actions were malicious or willful or if the teen lives with their parents.

Insurance Limits and Teen Drivers

While your insurance coverage may take care of the damages that your teen causes on the road, that isn’t always enough coverage. For example, if the injured party sues the parents of the teen for any amount of damages that exceed the insurance limits, the parents may be held financially responsible for those damages.

Parents are often the obvious target in a lawsuit because most teens don’t have any measurable property or assets. Even if your liability insurance coverage pays for the damages, you may still be sued for up to $5,000 if your teen maliciously and willfully caused harm to another person.

There are some scenarios that the $5,000 liability cap is void, including scenarios that fall under the Family Purpose Doctrine. This states that if a parent allows their teen to drive their family vehicle for a family purpose, they could be held liable for more than $5,000 if their child’s behavior results in major injuries or damages in a car accident.  

The family purpose is defined as activity that includes, but is not limited to family grocery shopping, running errands for the household, and picking up one of their siblings from school.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

While accidents are inevitable, there are ways that you can lower your teen’s risk of being in an accident. Minimize your teen’s risky behavior including speeding, distracted driving, drunk driving, driving while fatigued, drug use, inexperienced driving, and driving at night. Also, consider enrolling your teen in a driver’s education program. You’ll likely get a discount through your insurance company too if your child participates in one of these programs.

If your child is involved in an accident, especially if it wasn’t their fault, contact a Charleston Car Accident Lawyer at the David Aylor Law Offices today to schedule a consultation. We will ensure that you and your teen’s rights are protected and get you the compensation for your injuries and damages that you are entitled to.

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