Most Florida parents are happy when their teens eventually get their license. While most parents of course worry about Florida car accident statistics and hope that their child is never in a serious car crash, most parents do not worry about the liability and the legal risks they take on when their teen gets behind the wheel. However, it is true: parents can be held partly responsible for any accident their underage teen driver causes. There are many ways that parents can face a lawsuit:
1) By signing a driver’s license application for your minor driver. In most cases, your signature means that you are liable for the negligent driving – and the accidents it causes – of your teen driver. This liability lasts until the teen’s eighteenth birthday. Some insurance policies cover this liability, but you need to speak to your insurance provider to determine whether your policy covers it. The only way to avoid this liability is to withdraw your support via the Florida department of motor vehicles. You can also wait until your child is 18 before allowing them a license. Otherwise, you are partly liable if your teen is one of the hundreds each year that causes a Florida drunk driving accident or a pedestrian accident.
2) By being the registered owner of the vehicle your teen drives. Many parents buy their teen’s first car or have at least partial ownership. Sometimes, this is done as a gift or to keep insurance costs down. Either way, if your teen driver is under eighteen and you are listed as the owner of their vehicle, you may be held partly liable if your teen’s negligence leads to a car accident in Florida. Even if you are not officially the owner of the car but helped to pay for the car, you could be held liable. If you should have known that your teen was unqualified to drive (because of a drinking problem or a tendency to speed) you might also be liable for considerable punitive damages.
3) By being aware of your teen’s problems. If you knew that your teen driver had an alcohol problem, drug problem, or other behavioral problem that could make them dangerous behind the wheel, you could be held partly liable for gross negligence if you did not take enough steps to prevent your child from endangering others by driving. This type of supervision liability is not usually covered by car insurance or homeowner’s insurance and the punitive damages that can result if you are found liable can be substantial.
4) By not having enough insurance. Florida drivers with teenage drivers in their house need an excellent car insurance policy and an umbrella coverage on top of that. Look for a policy with plenty of liability coverage. If your insurance does not cover a car accident your teen has caused, you could find your personal assets in threatened. A serious Florida car accident, however, can easily cause millions of dollars in damages, so you need to ensure that your insurance can cover these costs so that your assets stay safe.