Parental Liability in Minor Child’s Car Crash
As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Aronberg, Aronberg & Green know, handing over a set of car keys to a child for the first time is difficult for any parent. While it’s an emotional situation for many reasons, it’s also a stressful one. “What if something terrible happens?” is a common concern of many parents of teenagers. For parents in Florida, and in many other states across the country, there is even more stress involved because parents are liable for the damage resulting from a car accident caused by the negligence of their child on a highway.
That’s right: even if a parent is not in the car with their child at the time of the crash, if their child causes an auto accident and damages arise from that accident, parents are, along with their children, jointly and severally liable for any damages caused by negligence or willful misconduct on a highway.
As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know, Florida State Statute 322.09(1)(a) holds that anyone under the age of 18 who applies for a driver’s license must have the application signed (and verified before someone authorized to administer oaths) by the applicant’s father, mother, or guardian (or other responsible adult willing to assume the associated obligations, including the obligation of being liable as discussed above). Generally, it is one of the parents who sign the application accepting responsibility. S. 322.09 goes on to state that the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) is prohibited, by state law, from issuing driver’s licenses to any minor child who has not submitted an application with the required parental signature.
As we noted above, by signing the application for their minor child’s driver’s license, the parent (or whoever it is that ends up signing the application) agrees to be held jointly and severally liable for the damages. So, what does that mean? If a plaintiff makes a legal claim arising from the auto accident caused by the negligence (or willful misconduct) or the minor child, and it’s determined that the damages amount to $100,000.00, both the parent who signed the application and the child are equally and fully responsible for the full amount of the $100,000.00; in other words, the parent is, on his or her own, fully responsible. (Our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers know that the minor child is also fully responsible, but most minor children don’t have many assets, so the plaintiff would pursue the parent for compensation).
Making sure that you’re driving as carefully as possible is incredibly important; making sure that your loved ones, including your children, are driving carefully is just as – if not more – important, as their negligence can have serious implications on the lives of others, their lives, and your livelihood.
Always make sure that you and your family members drive safely, and if you have any questions about this or any other personal injury issue, or if you or a loved one has been injured due to the recklessness or negligence of another, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg, Aronberg & Green by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to assisting you!