It’s a call that no parent wants: their child has just been involved in a car accident. The last thing a parent is worried about is liability. The first thing on their mind is making sure their child is uninjured or, if they do experience an injury, that they are given the appropriate medical attention.
Once the dust settles and the facts come out, the thought of liability will come to mind. If your child was involved in a car accident, you may be held responsible. Then again, you may not. The unique circumstances of the accident will dictate who is held at fault and who will be paying for injuries and property damage.
Every state across the nation has laws in place that dictate a parent’s responsibility for their children. Many states have something called the family car doctrine, which means that the owner of the car is responsible for damage that a family member causes while driving that vehicle.
As a parent, this law means that you can be held liable for your child’s accident. If your child is a legal dependent, you could be held accountable for their actions. This includes children over the age of 18 in some situations. If you consented to the use of your car and your child causes an accident, you can expect that you will be on the hook for making payments to the victim.
If, on the other hand, your child sneaks out of the house and takes your car without your permission, you can claim that you did not give consent. In these cases, you may not be held liable. Realistically, however, chances are that your child will not have the financial means on their own to pay damages to any victims.
Even in states that do not have the family car doctrine, you could still be held responsible. Vicarious liability means that you can be held to task if your child takes the family car and has an accident simply due to your relationship with the child. You may also be found liable due to negligent entrustment if you knew that your child was a poor driver or that they weren’t licensed.
We all hope that our children are going to drive safely, but accidents happen. If your child is involved in an accident, it will typically be in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney to discover the extent to which you may be held liable.
If you are involved in a car accident in Charlotte, you have legal rights. If the other driver is found to have been at fault for causing the accident, you may be entitled to damages for injuries and loss of property. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and learn more about your rights. We are here for you and your family and will help you take the appropriate next steps.