As a Parent, Are You Liable for Your Child’s Accident Just Because He’s Your Child?

If a child is responsible for an accident that results in an injury, it might be challenging to pursue a legal claim. If the kid is under 16, they will be bound by the same rules as an adult. If the youngster is between 17 and 18, they will be given the same treatment as adults. Even if an older kid were at fault, bringing a lawsuit against them would be pointless because they are unlikely to have the financial resources to make amends.

Parental Liability for Car Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are minors’ most prevalent negligent actions in civil responsibility cases. Drivers under the age of 18 lack experience and are more likely to be distracted. Cell phone usage, particularly messaging while driving is most prevalent in the 15- to 29-year-old bracket.

In the United States, six teenage drivers are killed in vehicle accidents daily, and a hundred others are wounded. More children in the car mean a greater chance of a collision. Auto insurance policies often cover all members of a family, including minors, in the event of a car accident. If your losses aren’t covered by the at-fault motorist’s parents’ auto insurance, you could be entitled to sue them for your injuries in a personal injury case.

Parents of minors who apply for a driver’s license in their state may be held liable for their child’s actions if the child is involved in an accident. If a reckless young driver hurts you or a loved one, you may have a stronger case for reimbursement if you follow the rules and contact a personal injury lawyer from Bader Scott.

Liability Under the Family Car Doctrine

Various states lack parental liability statutes. However, certain states, such as Colorado, do have variation of the Family Car Doctrine, which may allow action against a parent of a young driver who is at fault.

The Family Car Doctrine is applicable if:

  • The juvenile driver’s carelessness led to your injuries.
  • The parent serves as the head of the family.
  • The adolescent is a member of that same family.
  • The parent either owns or controls the vehicle.
  • The parent authorized the teen’s usage of the car.

Vicarious Liability and Negligent Entrustment

Victims can sue the guardians of a minor driver under vicarious responsibility and negligent entrustment statutes, depending on the situation.

The term “vicariously liable” suggests that the parents are held liable for their children’s actions, especially if the juvenile driver was en route to deliver something to the parents when the accident occurred.

In the same way, parents may be held accountable for their children’s deaths and injuries in car accidents if they let an untrained or reckless teen take the wheel.

Parental Liability Limitations

When a parent/guardian is responsible for the behavior of their minor kid, they are subject to state and federal laws.

Criminal Actions Versus Civil Actions

When someone commits a crime, the federal, state and local government charges them with a crime. For instance, a person convicted of assault or battery is legally accountable for their acts.

The purpose of civil lawsuits is to seek compensation for damages, regardless of whether or not the defendant violates the law. For instance, if you are involved in a rear-end accident with a reckless driver, you can file a civil action against the offender to demand damages for your losses.

Typically, parental liability regulations do not apply to children under the age of 10. Legally, kids under 10 are deemed incapable of carelessness because they’re too young to know any better.

Age of Majority

Parental liability ceases when a kid attains the “age of majority,” at which point the youngster is legally considered an adult.

In practically all states, the age of majority in civil affairs is 18, while in criminal cases, it is 17. Alabama and Nebraska’s majority age is 19, whereas Mississippi’s is 21.


Emancipated minors aren’t any longer the responsibility of their parents or guardians. Once a minor lawfully marries or enlists with the military in certain states, implied emancipation occurs.

Apart from marriage and military service, the emancipation of children is a legal process requiring a court order. The fact that a child appears to be “living on their own” does not absolve the parent of responsibility.

If you have suffered serious injuries in a vehicle accident perpetrated by an underage motorist or if another youngster has injured your kid, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to obtain the compensation you deserve.

About the author:

As a journalist, Leland D. Bengtson dedicated most of his career to law reporting. His greatest satisfaction is to convey legal matters to the public in a language that they can understand. He is active on various platforms and media outlets, writing about common legal issues that people confront with every day. While medical malpractice is his strong suit, Leland covers plenty of other topics, including personal injury cases, family law, and other civil and even criminal legal matters.


TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team