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Are Parents Liable for the Children’s Car Accidents In Florida?

A father teaching his teenage son to drive

The parents will likely be liable for damages caused by their children’s car accidents in Florida. Section 322.09(b) clearly states that the misconduct of a minor child driving a car will be attributed to the person who signed their application for a driver’s permit or license. In most cases, the child’s parents will have signed it.

If you suffer injuries in a car accident caused by a minor child, a Florida car accident lawyer from Kogan & DiSalvo can help you recover damages–from your liability carrier and the insurance that the minor child and their parents carry. Conversely, if you are the parent, our attorneys can help you strategize how best to insure yourself and your spouse or partners against liability for a child’s negligent acts.

Why does Florida attribute a child’s car accident liability to their parents?

In general, a parent is not responsible for their child’s negligence unless the child was acting under their authority. As for car accidents, that authority lies in the ownership and registration of the car. A minor child’s name can be on a vehicle title. However, in Florida, the owner has to be 18 years old to have a car registered in their name. Minors typically drive cars owned by their parents or legal guardians, who purchase and maintain the insurance on those cars. Accordingly, the parents or guardians bear responsibility for damages caused by them.

Can an injured driver sue a minor child for causing a Florida car accident?

Teenage driver looking at his phone while driving at night

A teen can be sued directly for negligently causing a Florida car accident. The injured driver should also name their parents in the lawsuit. Contracts executed by minor children are generally not enforceable. Further, any settlement of a negligence claim against a minor child would have to be signed by their parents or guardians.

As with other personal injury cases in Florida, an injured party has two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit against a minor. The statute of limitations for minors might be extended if the minor child is the injured party. Children under 18 are not authorized to file Florida lawsuits on their own behalf. The same extension does not apply if the minor child is named as the negligent party.

How can parents or guardians of minor children in Florida protect themselves from car accident liability?

Parents can best protect themselves or limit their overall liability through a combination of common sense rules and sound insurance coverage:

  • The parents should establish non-negotiable guidelines for when and how the child can operate a vehicle, including restrictions such as no texting or other use of a smartphone while driving and obeying all posted speed limits
  • Teenage children should be listed as covered parties on auto insurance liability policies
  • If a car is titled in a minor child’s name, the parents should consult with their insurance agents to determine who should be listed as a co-registrant on the vehicle registration
  • Parents or guardians should regularly ride as passengers with the child to verify that the child is operating the vehicle safely and following all rules of the road.

Call Us at Kogan & DiSalvo for a Free Consultation

The attorneys at Kogan & DiSalvo in front of their office building

We appreciate that young drivers need to gain experience on Florida’s roads and highways. Nonetheless, a  minor child’s driving privileges are accompanied by a responsibility to operate a car safely. When the child fails to live up to that responsibility, an injured driver has every right to pursue the child and their parents to collect all damages that may be available. Call our offices as soon as possible after your accident with a minor child to consult with one of our personal injury lawyers about the damages you may be entitled to recover. We work on a contingency basis, so there are no upfront legal fees.

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