When a teen gets behind the wheel, it can be a dangerous situation. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers are three time more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers from other age groups. This may be due to factors such as inexperience and immaturity. However, teen drivers also tend to engage in unsafe practices like speeding, driving under the influence and texting behind the wheel.
In Florida, teen driving is especially risky. In 2011, there were over 28,000 teen driver crashes across the state. Unfortunately, a teen driving accident can cost more than just the fine from a traffic citation. Under Florida law, parents may be liable for damages that their children cause behind the wheel.
If a teen driver under the age of 18 is involved in a crash, his or her parents can be held financially responsible in a civil lawsuit under the doctrine of vicarious liability. But even if the driver is 18 or older, the parents can be held liable if they are the owners of the vehicle. Under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, the law imposes strict vicarious liability on the owner of a motor vehicle if he or she voluntarily entrusts the vehicle to someone whose negligent operation causes damage.
Whether your child is in high school or college, their actions behind the wheel can affect your pocketbook. So when you hand over the keys, make sure they follow every safety precaution. And if something goes wrong, an experienced Florida auto accident attorney can help get you both out of the hot seat. At the Law Office of Paul B. Genet, P.A., we’re here to help.