Liability for Accidents Caused by Teenage Drivers
For many of us, obtaining our driver’s license was one of the highlights of our adolescence. While this continues to be true for many teenagers, it’s also important to note that having inexperienced drivers on the road can have serious repercussions for other motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Please call our Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers today to learn more about your own legal options following an accident caused by an underage driver.
Liability for the Negligence of Permissive Users
Under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, vehicle owners can be held liable for damage caused by permissive users, or those who they allow to use their vehicles. The rationale behind this theory of liability is that vehicles are potentially deadly pieces of machinery that can and do cause serious injuries, so their owners must bear at least some responsibilities for any injuries caused by those vehicles. This doctrine applies regardless of the age of the driver in question, so if a teenager drives his or her parents car in a reckless way and causes a collision, the vehicle’s owner can be held liable for damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
Limits to Third Party Liability
There are limits to the amount of compensation that a third party can recover from a vehicle’s owner under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, as state law dictates that a vehicle’s owner can only be held liable for a permissive user’s negligence in an amount equal to:
- $100,000 per person injured in the accident; and
- $300,000 per incident for bodily injury.
These limits, however, do not apply if the negligent driver is uninsured or has a policy with limits of less than $500,000. In these cases, the car’s owner can be held liable for an additional $500,000 in economic damages, minus any amounts recovered from the driver him or herself.
Liability of Parents and Guardians
In most car accident cases where a collision was caused by a teenager, it is that individual’s parents or guardians who will be held liable for resulting injuries either:
- Under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine; or
- According to the state law that allows injured parties to collect damages from the adult who signed the application for the teenager’s driver’s license.
Unlike a claim filed under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine there is no limit to how much an injured party can collect in damages when filing a lawsuit against the adult who signed a reckless teenage driver’s license application. It’s also important to note that liability under the latter does not require that the adult who signed the application actually be the owner of the car in question in order to be held legally responsible for the collision. In these cases, an injured party could even seek damages from the driver, the owner of the vehicle, and the minor’s parent, each of whom could potentially be held liable for a portion of the resulting losses.
Call Today to Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated Attorney
To learn more about filing a claim for a crash caused by a negligent teenager, please contact one of the dedicated auto accident lawyers at Boone & Davis today. A member of our team can be reached at our office at 954-566-9919 or via online message.