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Teen accidents and parental liability in California

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for the nation's youngest drivers. Unfortunately, accidents involving teen drivers often affect third parties. In these cases, it may be possible to hold the teens' parents responsible for the injuries caused by their teenaged son or daughter.

Teen traffic fatalities

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that motor vehicle accidents are the main cause of death among teenagers. About 3,000 teens die every year in traffic accidents, and approximately 20 percent of 16 year-olds will be involved in an accident in their first year of driving.

Parental liability in California

In California, parents must sign a consent form to allow their son or daughter under the age of 18 to drive. In doing so, they assume liability for any accidents caused by their teen drivers. This is known as parental liability.

Parents are released from liability once their children turn 18 or if they withdraw their support by filing a Request for Cancellation or Surrender of a Driver License. Parents can withdraw their consent at any time. If they do so, their teenaged son or daughter immediately loses his or her driving privileges.

Additionally, parents who loan their cars to teen drivers may be held liable through vicarious liability. Vicarious liability applies when the motorist who causes an accident is driving a car that is not his or her own.

Parents may also be held responsible for accidents caused by teen drivers who have a history of DUIs or known drug and alcohol issues.

Setting ground rules for teens

The NHTSA urges parents to seriously consider whether or not their teens are ready for the risks and responsibilities of driving before they give consent for their children to get behind the wheel. Once parents do feel it is appropriate for their kids to start driving, they need to set concrete ground rules.

Clear rules should also have consequences, including taking away the keys to the family car. Smart rules include a complete ban on drinking and driving, no nighttime driving, no cell phones, no more than one passenger, and always wearing a seatbelt. These rules will help keep teens and others on the road safe.

How to recover damages for a car accident

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by a driver of any age, it may be possible to recover damages for your injuries. To do so, you will need to prove that the driver's negligence or recklessness caused the accident that resulted in your injuries. Examples of negligence and recklessness include: speeding, failing to signal turns, disobeying traffic signs, and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

To learn more about how you can be compensated for your injuries, contact the Trial Team at Killackey Law Offices, A Professional Corporation. Our Trial Team is experienced in representing injured victims, and family members who has lost a family member due to the negligence of inexperienced and poor drivers. You may call to speak directly with a member of our team 24 hours a day at (626) 281-4900 or (888) 388-8552, or you may email Michael Killackey Directly at mak@killackeylaw.com. Call us, we are prepared to help now.

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