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Are Parents Liable If Their Teen Causes a Collision?

 Posted on May 22, 2024 in Car Accident

Fort Collins, CO car crash injury lawyerTeen drivers are at higher risk for crashes than any other age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teens between the ages of 16 and 19 are three times more likely to get in a car crash than other drivers per mile driven. This is partly because over half of teenagers text while they drive, as well as other forms of distracted driving.

The question that arises when teens get into car accidents is: Who is liable for damages and injuries to the other party? The teen may have caused the collision but in many cases, the car belongs to the parents. Furthermore, if the teenager is solely responsible, that often means the injured party cannot be compensated for damages. Teenagers rarely have assets of their own.

This article will discuss the liability of parents when their children get into car accidents. If you were injured in a car accident caused by someone’s child, contact a car accident attorney to explore your options.

The Family Car Doctrine

Along with 19 other states, Colorado has a rule called the family car doctrine. This rule states that if you have a family and a car, you are responsible for how your family members use that car. Like firearms, vehicles are deadly — and, like with owning a firearm, you are the gatekeeper who must restrict its use when necessary. 

So, if a teen uses your car and causes a car accident, the parent may be liable for damages. This is true even if the parent did not give the teen express permission to use the vehicle.

What Are the Criteria for Applying the Family Car Doctrine?

To apply the family car doctrine and hold a parent liable for damages, you will have to prove the following:

  • The driver is a member of the parent’s household.

  • The parent is the head of the household.

  • The parent has authority over the vehicle.

  • The driver used the car with the parent’s implied or explicit permission.

  • You were injured as a result of the driver’s negligence.

What if I Was Also at Fault?

Colorado law takes a comparative fault approach to personal injury. This means that the party who was injured can also be held partly responsible for the injury. In Colorado, you can bring a personal injury claim against a party as long as that party is more at fault than you are. But even so, any degree of fault you have might be deducted from your compensation. So, for instance, if you are 30% at fault, you will be entitled to 30% less damages.

Therefore, if you were also texting and driving when the accident occurred, you will have a more difficult time collecting compensation from the other driver

Contact a Fort Collins, CO Car Accident Attorney

If you were injured in a car accident, you may be able to claim compensation. But if the driver was a teen, the situation becomes more complicated. Consult a Larimer County, Colorado car accident lawyer who understands the family car doctrine and other parts of personal injury law. At Hoggatt Law Office, P.C., we have recovered millions of dollars in damages for our clients and we are aggressive about getting the most compensation possible. Call 970-225-2190 for a free consultation today.

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