Who Could Be Liable If A Teenager Causes An Injury Accident?

distracted teen driving

When a teenager causes an accident in New York, parents will not typically be held liable for damages resulting from the accident unless their negligence contributed to the accident. However, parents may be responsible if they own the vehicle their teenager was driving at the time of the accident, even if the parents were not in the car.

Parents can ensure their teens are covered if they get into an accident by including their teens (or any children who regularly use their vehicle, even older kids) on their insurance policy.

If your teen has caused a car crash, contact our New York City car accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. to discuss your legal options and obligations under New York State Law. Our attorneys have the knowledge and resources to safeguard your legal rights and help you determine the best path forward. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Can Parents Be Held Liable?

Just because your teen is directly related to you does not automatically make you liable for an accident they caused. You may, however, be responsible if you were negligent in some way that ultimately contributed to your teen’s accident.

For instance, you may be liable if you:

  • Permit your teen to get behind the wheel if you know that doing so would be irresponsible or dangerous. For instance, if you allow your child to drive when you know they have been drinking, you could be considered negligent and therefore would be liable.
  • Neglected to prevent your teen from operating the vehicle in a way that endangered other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
  • Allowed or encouraged your teen to engage in negligent behavior.
  • The teen was acting on your behalf.

If you own the vehicle that caused the collision, then you are even more likely to be held liable for damages.

Vehicle Owners Are Liable in New York

Under the vicarious liability statute, New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 388 states that owners of vehicles are responsible for any death or damages that result from the operation of a vehicle they own, as long as that person has express or implied permission to use the vehicle.

So if a parent has given their teen permission to use a vehicle they own, and the teen, through negligence, causes an accident that results in death, injury, or property damage, the parent will be held liable because they own the vehicle and gave the teen permission to use it.

Due to vicarious liability, the vehicle owner is typically named in any personal injury lawsuit that results from the crash rather than the person whose negligence caused the injury. Teenagers and other young drivers likely won’t have the financial means to settle a personal injury lawsuit, which is why New York state law permits any party who was seriously injured in the crash to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the vehicle owner.

If your teen or young adult child caused an accident while driving a vehicle that you permitted them to drive, then you should consult with one of our car accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. right away to evaluate your legal options.

Liability and No-fault Insurance Coverage

New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that when you are in an accident, everyone involved typically turns to their no-fault insurance coverage – also known as personal injury protection coverage – to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from their injuries, regardless of who was at fault.

Because of New York’s no-fault status, if your teen caused an accident that resulted in only minor injuries, then the victims of the accident would have no choice but to file a claim with their insurance coverage, even though your teen was legally at fault.

However, if the accident caused severe injuries, the victims may step outside of New York’s no-fault insurance regulations and file a personal injury lawsuit. Serious injuries can incur medical expenses that go beyond the limitations of a person’s no-fault policy, which is why it may be necessary for a person to file a lawsuit for additional compensation. Serious injuries must meet New York’s serious injury threshold. If the accident resulted in serious injuries, your insurance would be required to pay damages if your policy covers your child.

Does My Insurance Policy Cover My Teen?

If you are giving your teen permission to use a vehicle you own, it’s essential to ensure that your policy covers them if they cause an accident.

Your teenager is usually considered to be insured if:

  • They are included in your insurance policy
  • They are permitted to drive a vehicle that they own
  • They live in your house

You should reach out to your insurance agent to discuss whether your policy covers your teen. While they may be automatically covered in some situations, you might need to specifically name them in your policy to ensure they are covered. For instance, if they no longer reside with you, they would not be automatically covered. You could also consider transferring ownership of the vehicle to your teen or college-aged child.

Contact A New York Car Accident Attorney Today

If your teen drives a car that you own, you should consider adding them to your insurance policy so that if they cause a crash, you will be protected financially. If your teen has caused an accident that resulted in injuries and damage to other people, then consult with one of our New York car accident attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. right away.

Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys are here to offer you sound legal advice and to discuss your legal options, to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.