In Florida, a teenager can begin driving as soon as they are fifteen years old. Teens in Florida can drive by obtaining a Learner’s Permit or a Restricted Driver’s License. If they meet all of the learning requirements and pass the driving test, a teen can have a full Driver’s License, with no restrictions, at the age of sixteen.
Naturally, parents will be concerned for their teenager’s safety behind the wheel of a car. Under the law, the parents can share liability for any damages or injuries caused by a teenager, assuming the teen is at-fault. If your teenager has been involved in a car accident, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your liability and explore your legal options.
When Teenagers Are At-Fault Drivers in Car Accidents
For purposes of this blog, we are only discussing teenagers that are of legal driving age, which is between fifteen and nineteen.
When it comes to liability for a car accident, Florida law does not carve out any special exceptions for teenage drivers. By default, most lawsuits will treat the teenager as an adult. As in any other car accident, the police will arrive, take statements from both sides and any witnesses, and then they will write up a report.
Insurance claims resulting from the accident would be the same as if everyone was an adult. Florida requires all drivers to carry $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and another $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage. These amounts will be included in all plans that offer the state minimum. Regardless of fault, PIP can help cover you, your teenager, and any passengers with minor injuries.
However, if your teenager is found to be at-fault for a car accident that resulted in severe injuries, then the question will turn to a matter of liability. Florida law allows the injured victim to pursue damages from the at-fault driver, personally. In the event of a civil lawsuit for damages, all drivers (whether teenager or adult) will be assigned a percentage of fault for a crash. Any amount of money that is awarded in a case will be reduced by that amount.
On the other hand, if your teen is seriously injured and the other driver is at-fault, you might be able to demand compensation from that driver.
Responsibility of Parents for Their Teenager’s Florida Car Accident
Under Florida law, parents can be held legally responsible for negligent driving on behalf of their teenage child. Parents/guardians are required to sign the driver’s license of anyone under the age of eighteen.
By requiring the signature of a parent/guardian, the law signifies that parents are liable for damage caused by their teenager’s willful misconduct. While your teenager will be assigned a percentage of fault for an accident, you might be responsible for any costs or insurance premiums that arise out of said accident.
Further, liability does not exactly end when a teenager turns eighteen. Florida has a vicarious liability doctrine that holds the owner of a car responsible for negligent operation of that car. If you owned an Escalade that your nineteen-year-old used to intentionally hit someone, you can be held liable even though you were not the driver.
Despite the possibility that you could be responsible for your teenager’s actions, there are steps you can take to reduce your liability. The following are the steps you can take to try and reduce your liability for your teenager’s car accident:
- Personally make certain that the teenager is mature enough to handle themselves as a driver
- Have the teenager buy their own car, and put the title of that car in their name
- Have the teenager buy their own insurance policy
- Do not allow the teenager to obtain a driver’s license until they turn eighteen
If your teen has been involved in a car accident, you should contact an experienced attorney right away. A car accident attorney in Orlando will be able to evaluate the facts of your case and explain your potential for liability.
Contact a Skilled Car Accident Attorney at Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A.
Whether you are seeking legal help for you or your teenager, having a seasoned and knowledgeable car accident attorney on your side will bring you peace of mind. At Wooten, Kimbrough, Damaso & Dennis, P.A., our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience. We know the ins and outs of personal injury and auto accident cases, and we want to help you.
If you or your teen need the assistance of a skilled attorney, we will handle the day-to-day legal matters and make sure you are zealously represented. If you have a teenager who has been involved in an auto accident, please contact us today. To schedule a free consultation, you can contact us online or call (407) 843-7060.