Although this is standard procedure under law, there are circumstances in which a person who was not present or driving the vehicle can be sued and held liable for a motor vehicle accident. This is referred to as “vicarious liability”, or “imputed negligence”, and it plays a major role in situations where minors cause serious car accidents that involve injury to one or more parties.
Even if a person was not driving their vehicle, or even present at all during the accident, there is still a possibility that they could be sued for damages in a car wreck. This is mostly common among parents who lend their vehicles to their children, or have their children’s vehicles in their name. If a minor causes a car collision that results in another person’s injury or death, the parents of that minor can be held liable for all damages under vicarious liability law. There are a few separate ways in which this can occur.
The law may perceive a parent, also referred to as an “entruster”, as negligent if they allow their teenager to drive a vehicle in their name knowing that their child is reckless, untrustworthy, inadequate at driving, or unlicensed. If a child falls under any of these descriptions, and subsequently causes a serious accident, the guardians can be held accountable for the damages.
They can be sued for high amounts of compensation to cover automotive repair costs, hospital bills, medical expenses, lost wages, prolonged therapy, lifelong disabilities, pain and suffering, wrongful death, and much more. There is virtually no limit to which a victim can sue a negligent parent after their teenager causes them serious injury from a motor vehicle accident.
Family Purpose Doctrine
In the case that a member of the family borrows another family member’s vehicle, with or without permission, and then causes an accident, the car owner can be held liable for the damages incurred. This holds true regardless if consent was granted or not. In other states, whoever signs for a minor’s Drivers’ License is the authority that can be held accountable if a minor causes serious injury to another person while driving.