Typically, most states have negligence laws that hold the negligent driver responsible for causing an accident. However, some don’t know that if a teenager gets into an accident, their parents may be the ones held liable.
Most parents do their best to teach their teens good driving behaviors, hoping that they won’t get hurt or cause an accident. However, for those parents that believe their children should learn their lesson and deal with the consequences of their actions on their own, they may be surprised when they find out that they can still be held responsible even if it was their teenager’s negligent actions that caused the accident.
Unfortunately, no matter how well a parent has prepared their teen for getting behind the wheel, statistics show that teen drivers are at a higher risk of causing motor vehicle accidents. If you or a loved one are injured in an accident caused by a negligent teenager, working with an experienced Kentucky personal injury attorney can help ensure all guilty parties are held responsible and get you the compensation you deserve.
The CDC reports that nearly 2,400 teens were killed in car accidents in 2019. Of those that cause accidents, the risk is higher among teenagers aged 16–19. Experts believe this is due to several factors, such as:
- Gender: The death rate for male teen drivers is often higher than for female teen drivers.
- Passenger occupants: Teen drivers with other teen passengers are more likely to cause a crash than if there were adults present in the vehicle.
- Inexperience: Data shows that newly licensed teen drivers are at especially high risk of causing an accident.
- Weekend driving: Teens tend to stay out later on the weekends—and data shows that fatal accidents involving teenagers tend to be higher Friday through Sunday.
- Seat belt use: Almost half of the teenagers aged 16–19 that died in a car accident in 2019 were found to have not been using their seat belt.
- Distractions: Teen drivers are more easily distracted by things such as their phones and other friends in the car, which contributes to higher teen accident rates.
- Speeding: A high number of teens who die in car crashes were speeding when the accident occurred.
- Underage drinking: In 2018,24% of drivers aged 15–20 killed in car crashes were under the influence of alcohol.
In the state of Kentucky, there are laws that may hold parents jointly or severely responsible for damage and injuries caused by their teen driver’s negligence. For example, under the “family purpose doctrine,” if the parents provided a car to their teen and they used it within the scope of “family purpose,” the parents can be held accountable. In most cases, all typical uses of the vehicle fall into this category.
Kentucky law requires the parents or guardians of a minor to sign their application for a driver’s license or permit. By doing so, parents are essentially taking responsibility for their teen and their driving. Thus, under Kentucky Rev. Stat. section 186.590, the parent or guardian who signed the minor’s license or permit application will be held jointly liable, along with the teen driver, for any damages and injuries caused due to negligent driving.
There are other cases in which a parent or guardian may still be held accountable, even if the above does not apply. For example, common-law states that all parents must exercise care and control of their minor to prevent them from causing harm to others or putting themselves at risk. If a parent is (a) aware of this duty and (b) neglects that duty, they can be held liable for the minor’s negligent actions.
What this essentially means is that if a parent knows their teen has a tendency to act irresponsibly and recklessly, and they do nothing to intervene, they may still be held responsible for their teen’s negligent driving.
With teen driving accidents occurring at such high rates, it increases the risk of being injured for other drivers as well. If you are injured due to a teen’s negligent driving, you have a right to seek justice and damages to help cover the cost of any expenses related to the accident. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys can help you pursue your case and ensure that all responsible parties are held liable.
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