It’s not difficult to remember a time in which you were a teenage driver. It’s an exciting experience, learning how to drive. Most parents do everything they can to teach their children how to safely operate a vehicle, from driver’s ed to simply riding in the passenger seat as they learn how to drive on the interstate.
Similarly, it’s also easy to remember how careless you were as a teen driver. These days, teenagers have even more ways to engage in distracted driving whether it’s sending text messages to friends or finding the perfect playlist for their drive. It’s no surprise that accidents happen when teenagers drive with so many distractions and naivete, but what implications does this bring for the parents of the aforementioned teenager? Are the parents held responsible for the damages their teen caused in a car accident?
If you are the parent of a minor, it’s important to understand how Indiana laws may hold you liable for the negligent actions of your driving teenager. In this blog, we discuss what liability parents carry in the event of a teen car accident.
Statistics on Teen Drivers
It’s easy to see how minor drivers are some of the most dangerous drivers on Indiana roads. Not only do they lack experience, but they are much more likely to be distracted by any number of things while operating a vehicle. Here are some important statistics to remember concerning minor drivers:
- One in five 16-year-olds will have an accident within the first year of driving
- 33% of deaths among 13 to 19-year-olds in 2010 happened in car crashes
- 56% of teens admit to driving while talking on the phone
- Driver death rates between ages 16 and 17 increase with each added passenger in their vehicle
- Crash rates for 16-year-old drivers are higher than any other age group
So, are the parents held liable for the damages in a teen car accident? The answer to this question under common law would be no, the parents are not held responsible for damages in this situation. However, many states have adopted statutory laws on parental liability for their child’s actions. Before getting into the specifics, it’s important to remember two things first and foremost:
- Unless otherwise stated by a statute or case law, a parent is not liable for their child’s negligence.
- States may have developed case law on certain aspects of the law that are not covered by statutes, and further research may be needed to determine the limits of parent liability
Indiana parent responsibility laws tend to be strict. The goal of these laws is to protect drivers involved in accidents caused by minor drivers and hold the parents financially responsible. According to Indiana Code Section 9-24-9-4, the parent who signs the driver’s license application of a minor can and will be held liable for all of the damage caused by that minor in an accident.
Another section of Indiana law outlines the responsibility of a parent if their minor child is involved in gang activity. According to Indiana Code section 34-31-4-2, any parent who fails to take reasonable action in preventing his or her child from partaking in gang activity will be held liable for all of the damage the child causes.
However, there are requirements that must be fulfilled in order for a parent to be held liable for the damage or bodily harm caused by a minor driver. These requirements include:
- The minor child must be in the custody of the legal parent or guardian
- The child must be living with the legal parent or guardian
- The harm to the victim must have been caused intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly by the minor child
- The limit for the amount of liability the parent or guardian has cannot exceed $5,000 in actual damages
Contact an Indiana Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you are a parent of a minor driver who was involved in an accident, Crossen Law Firm is here for you. Our Indianapolis personal injury lawyers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to help you with your claim and advocate for your best interest.