Are parents responsible for car accidents caused by their teen driver(s)?
Yes. A parent can be held liable for the negligent actions of their teen driver. Under Florida law, a parent or guardian must sign the driver’s license of a person under the age of 18 and by doing so; the law holds this person accountable for any negligent conduct by the teen driver while they are behind the wheel.
What is the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine?
The State of Florida recognizes the dangerous instrumentality doctrine, which states that an owner may be held liable for any damages suffered by third parties as the result of the negligent operation of their vehicle, when it is driven by others with their knowledge and consent. This doctrine imposes strict vicarious liability upon the owner of a motor vehicle who voluntarily entrusts that motor vehicle to an individual whose negligent operation causes damage to another. For example, if you provide your child with a car for college and it is titled under your name, you can be held liable for the actions of your child while they are behind the wheel.
What are some ways parents can limit their liability when it comes to the actions of their teen driver?
- Carry a sufficient amount of insurance
- Have your teen driver purchase his or her own vehicle
- Have your teen wait until they are 18 years of age to obtain their license
- Ensure that your teen driver is responsible enough to handle operating a vehicle.
How can parents help keep their teen drivers safe while behind the wheel?
Establish the following rules:
- NO passengers. Teen drivers should have no passengers under the age of 21 in their vehicle during the first six months of having their license.
- NO alcohol.
- NO speeding.
- Establish a curfew.
- Enforce seat belt use.
- No Cell Phone Use / No Texting while Driving.
- Establish a zero-tolerance policy with your teen driver: Unsafe driving = NO driving.
Related Teen Driver Safety Resources
- When Adults Get Involved, It Can Help Reduce High Rate Of Teen Driver Deaths – Forbes.com
- Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine Law & Legal Definition – from USLegal.com
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