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Holding parents accountable for a minor child’s car accident, P.2

Picking up from our last post, we wanted to briefly look at several scenarios where a parent may be held liable for a teen driver’s driving negligence.

First of all, New York law imposes liability on all vehicle owners for deaths or injuries to persons or property resulting from the use of their vehicles. Liability may be found whether the vehicle is used to carry out the owner’s business or otherwise, provided the owner has given permission for the driver’s use of the vehicle. Permission does not need to be express, though, as it may also be implied by the owner’s actions. In the case of a parent and child, liability under this measure is not hard to imply. Parents may, therefore, be held liable relatively easily for a teen driver’s use of a family vehicle.

Another possible legal basis for holding a parent accountable for his or her child’s motor vehicle accident is when the parent entrusts a vehicle to a child who has a history of dangerous behavior behind the wheel.  This is known as negligent entrustment. Alleging this cause of action means holding a parent accountable for his or her own negligence in allowing a child to drive when the child should not have been allowed to drive.

A parent may also be held accountable for damages caused by a minor child’s motor vehicle accident if the parent is a co-owner of the vehicle along with the child. In such cases, the parent would be jointly and severally liable with the child for damages the child causes.

Those who have been harmed as a result of a teen driver’s negligence in an automobile accident can and should consult with an experienced attorney for guidance and advocacy. Doing so will help ensure the strongest possible case for liability is build so as to give the accident victim the best possible shot at recovering damages.

Sources:                                        

New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 388: Negligence in use of operation of vehicle attributable to owner

45 New York Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Domestic Relations § 565, Dangerous instrumentality entrusted or made accessible to child, Braswell et al., August 2016 Update.

14 New York Practice Series, New York Law of Torts § 9:4, Imputed Negligence and Vicarious Liability, Kreindler et al., August 2016 Update. 

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