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Are parents liable for car accidents caused by their children?

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2022 | Personal Injury

Teenage drivers cause a disproportionate share of accidents. Because teenagers often do not have any assets of their own, injured people who are in accidents with teenage drivers may wonder if they can collect compensation from their parents.

Are parents responsible for damages caused by teenage drivers in Maryland?

Teens’ liability for car accidents

Criminal law usually treats teenagers differently than adults because teens do not have the same mental capacity to make decisions. However, civil law often does not. When a teenage driver causes an auto accident, civil law allows the injured party to sue the teenager for damages. However, few teenagers have the resources to pay settlements.

Like all other drivers, teens must have a license and insurance to drive a vehicle. In most cases, the insurance policy of the person who owns the vehicle, whether that is the parents or the teen, will pay for damages caused by a negligent teenage driver.

Parental responsibility

Problems may arise if a teenager does not have insurance, which is often the case when teenage drivers are too young to obtain a license. If the teen was driving the parents’ car, the parents’ insurance may pay for the damages. Additionally, Maryland law may consider the parents financially responsible under the doctrine of negligent entrustment if the parent allowed the child to use the vehicle and the parent knew or should have known the child was incompetent.

It can be difficult to prove parental responsibility for damages caused by their minor children. However, when parents allow unlicensed minors to operate motor vehicles, they may become liable for damages caused by their children.