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Under 18 and Driving: Who is Responsible If An Accident Occurs?

In California, teens make up the largest number of newly licensed drivers. At the age of 15 ½, teens are eligible to apply for a learner’s permit and take the written exam, leading them that much closer to becoming legally licensed.

There is a strong correlation between age and driving behavior, especially in regards to traffic collisions. Statistics prove that teenage drivers are at the “highest risk” category when it comes to auto accidents. Here is a scenario to consider when it comes to teens and potential auto accidents:

If your teen gets in an accident with your car—that is, one that is owned by their parent or guardian—the parent(s) can potentially be held liable. Most states will require that the parents are responsible for the damages. Be sure to check your personal insurance coverage and upgrade from general liability insurance to full coverage if need be.

If your teen driver were listed on your insurance policy, the insurance company would settle the damage caused by the accident. This process is based on the car owner’s policy limits (and whether it covers a particular accident damage). The bottom line is to have a sufficient insurance policy plan; otherwise, if uninsured, the injured parties and their insurance company can sue any parties necessary to collect the accident fees. When in doubt, be sure to consult an experienced auto accident attorney, especially when navigating your state’s specific liability laws.

California generally requires parental consent for a teen under the age of 18 to legally drive. This “consent” holds the parents liable for any injuries, and this liability can potentially last until the child turns 18 years old or the parents withdraw their consent of their child’s driver’s license. Moreover, as a parent, you are able to withdraw consent at any time. So be sure you keep your teen accountable for his/her own safety on the roads! You will thank yourself for doing this in the long run.

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