Can Parents Be Sued for a Child’s Car Accident?
A parent’s worst nightmare is finding out that their child has been involved in a bad car accident. Injuries can last a lifetime and cause pain and financial difficulty for many years to come. Making matters worse, a serious crash could stay on your child’s record for a long time if he or she is the at fault driver.
Dealing with the financial repercussions of your child’s car accident can raise some early questions. For example, how it will affect your insurance rates? Can another driver sue a parent for damages?
Parental liability is a tricky topic, but a parent may be responsible for the actions of the child in some circumstances.
Get Help After Your Child’s Car Accident
If you or your child has recently been involved in a Georgia car accident, one of the best moves to properly prepare yourself for the future is to contact a Georgia car accident attorney. A lawyer in your area with ample experience and a history of winning cases like yours.
An experienced attorney can also help you seek monetary damages to cover the full costs of your injury.
The Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, LLC has the background you’re looking for when it comes to fighting back against insurance companies, negligent drivers, or those who would attempt to blame you or your child for an accident you were not at fault for. Call us at (404) 869-1580 and we can schedule a review of the details of your case at no cost or obligation to you.
Parental Responsibility and Negligence in Georgia
Teaching a teenager to drive can be scary and frustrating even without having to deal with the seriousness of a car accident. Unfortunately, new drivers are significantly more likely to be involved in a collision.
Drivers between the age of 16 and 19 are almost three times as likely to get in a fatal car accident compared to drivers over the age of 20. It’s twice as high for male drivers compared to female drivers, and also increases based on the number of passengers in the vehicle with the driver.
In Georgia, when a child causes damages in an accident or intentionally, the parent may be held accountable (GA Code § 51-2-2). Essentially, a parent may be responsible for damages caused by their children.
In addition to this, a parent can be held liable for up to $10,000 in damages (plus court fees and costs) for the actions of their child if the child acted willfully or maliciously.
Georgia Comparative Negligence
If you have been involved in a car accident and the opposing driver was a minor who may be at fault, you should know the basics of Georgia’s system of determining negligence.
In any Georgia personal injury or property damage case, fault needs to be determined before damages can be recovered by the victim. If the case proceeds to a trial, a jury will look at the evidence to assign a percentage of blame to each of the negligent parties involved in the accident.
For instance, if a child was texting while driving and speeding and the other driver had to slam on their brakes because they were distracted by passengers in the car, negligence would be assigned proportionally. The minor might be assigned 60-70% of the blame in this case, meaning they are partially at-fault and can be targeted for damages in a lawsuit.
Negligence is one of the primary focuses in Georgia car accident cases, and proving negligence is one of the most important parts of establishing an injury claim. An experienced car accident lawyer will know many ways to identify negligence or establish that the plaintiff lacks evidence to prove negligence. Speak to a Georgia car accident lawyer before signing any papers or heading to court.
What to Prove for a Parent to be Liable for Their Child’s Accident
There are a few ways a parent could be liable for their child’s accident in Georgia.
Already discussed is the general responsibility all parents have for their children, colloquially known as “vicarious liability.” A parent is likely to be held accountable for their child’s car accident, particularly when the parent should have known that their child should not be driving but allowed them to anyway.
In this case, the following must be true for a parent to be considered negligent and held liable for damages:
- The parent entrusted the vehicle to the child
- The parent was aware or should have been aware that the child was not a competent driver or may be likely to drive negligently
- Damages were caused
- The child’s negligence caused the damages
In Georgia, there is precedent for parents to be held liable for their children’s car accidents when the vehicle used is maintained for “family purposes.” In most cases, it’s not enough for a parent to be held liable if they merely own the car their child uses during an accident.
Hicks v. Newman set the precedent that a car maintained for use by the family is intended for children to drive and is a sign that the parent entrusted the car to the child. For this precedent to fit, the following needs to be true:
- The parent owns or has legal control over a vehicle
- The parent has made the vehicle available for family use
- The driver is a member of the parent’s immediate household
- The parent allows the child to drive the vehicle, either permissively or passively
Suppose the damage exceeds the insurance maximums and the parents have either been found negligent or have given access to the vehicle based on the “family purpose doctrine.” If so, they could be on the hook for all of the damages insurance won’t cover.
Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable for a Georgia Car Accident
Are you the victim of a recent car accident looking to hold the proper parties accountable? Or are you a parent of a child who was recently involved in a car accident? Seeking an experienced car accident lawyer is a good way to recover from this incident and move on with your life.
As a parent or as a victim, your financial future should be supported by a law firm that has won cases for people in similar situations. Protect your health, financial future, and the security of your family by calling the Law Offices of Andrew E. Goldner, LLC at (404) 869-1580 today to schedule a free, no-risk consultation.