No matter how skilled your teen driver is, putting your child behind the wheel can be scary for a parent. Whether you’re helping them pick out a car or letting them drive yours, there’s always the possibility they could get into a collision.
Many Texas parents wonder if they’re liable for damages caused by their teen driver’s car accident, especially with Texas laws being quite different from those of many other states.
What Are the Reasons for Teen Car Accidents?
Even after your teenager passes their driver’s test, they still have a lack of experience on the road. This can impact their ability to quickly recognize hazards and make critical safety decisions, such as whether or not it’s safest to hit the brakes if an animal is in the middle of the road.
Additionally, teen drivers may engage in more risk-taking behaviors, such as:
- Texting or using their phone while driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Other distracted driving behaviors, such as eating, drinking or talking to their fellow passengers
- Being influenced by peer pressure from friends in the car, who may encourage your teen driver to drive riskily or dangerously
- Not maintaining proper distance behind the car in front of them
Am I Liable for Damages Caused by My Teen’s Accident?
If there are damages or injuries resulting from a car accident, some states hold the owner of a vehicle responsible. This applies even if a different family member was driving the vehicle, which includes a teen-aged child.
However, Texas laws are different. Under negligent entrustment, you can be held liable for the driver’s negligence only if the following can be proven:
- You are the vehicle owner and entrusted it to someone
- You allowed a person to use your vehicle and knew or should have known that they were an incompetent, unlicensed or reckless driver
- The person you allowed to drive your car caused the car accident through negligence
Texas’ parental liability law may also apply. A parent can be held responsible for “the negligent conduct of the child if the conduct is reasonably attributable to the negligent failure of the parent […] to exercise that duty.”
This means that if your teen driver’s negligence causes property damage, you can be held liable if your teen’s negligence is attributed to your failure to exercise control of their behavior. You may also be held liable for personal injury or death if you negligently entrust your vehicle to your teen when you know they can be intoxicated, unlicensed or reckless.
Has Your Teen Been in a Car Accident? Speak to an Experienced Attorney
Teaching your teen driving safety is crucial, but accidents can still happen no matter how safe they are. If your teen has been involved in a car or truck accident, learn your rights by speaking to a lawyer who’s experienced in vehicle accidents in Texas.