If you are the parent of a teen driver and your child is in an auto accident, you may wonder what kind of responsibility you as a parent may have to the other driver for your child’s auto accident. Under Texas law, parents can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their teen drivers under some circumstances, so carrying automobile insurance coverage on all cars and keeping it in force is essential. As discussed below, listing your teen as an additional driver for each car in your household may not be required for an auto accident involving your teen driver to be covered under your auto insurance policy, as long as the car involved in the accident is listed and covered by the policy.
But even if you were not in the car at the time of the auto accident, as a parent, if your child has a history of tickets or accidents, you could be held liable for your child’s conduct under a separate legal theory called “negligent entrustment.” Under this theory, if your child has a poor driving record, and you allow them out in the family station wagon and they cause an accident, you could be held liable for additional and even punitive damages for under the theory that your child’s poor driving was foreseeable, and you nevertheless allowed them to drive the vehicle.
Does It Make a Difference Whose Name the Car is Titled In?
If your teen has a history of poor driving, such as multiple traffic tickets or accidents, or has a history of drinking and driving, you may want to consider titling the car solely in the teen’s name. If the car is legally owned by the teen rather than the parent, then the parent cannot be held liable under a theory of negligent entrustment, because the car is the child’s own property, and the child simply chose to drive it.
What If I Did Not Add My Teen As An Additional Driver on My Auto Insurance Policy, is the Auto Accident Still Covered by Auto Insurance?
You must check the specific terms of your particular auto insurance policy, but in most cases, as long as your teen is a member of your household, the answer is “yes, you are covered.” Most insurance policies have a provision that provides that all “members” of the household who driver the vehicle are covered just as the driver’s who are listed on the policy are. So even if you did not list your teen as an additional driver for the car involved in the accident, as long as the teen had permission to drive the vehicle involved, and your child was a member of your household, their conduct is mostly likely covered by your auto insurance policy.
If you are involved in an accident with a teen driver, get legal help pursuing your claim. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at J. Thomas Law Firm for your free consultation. Click here to request your free case review or call 817-442-2410. We take personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis; there is no fee ever unless and until we make a recovery for you. We serve clients in Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville, Dallas, Fort Worth, Keller, Hurst, Euless, Bedford, North Richland Hills, Roanoke, Trophy Club, and throughout the DFW Metroplex area.