You cannot directly sue a minor for a car accident. However, if a teenage driver causes damage in an accident, the parents or guardians may be held accountable under Georgia law. That said, there are certain exceptions where a parent may not be liable for the damage their child causes.
In most cases, though, the parent’s insurance company is responsible for covering the damages resulting from a car accident, and injured victims may be able to sue the parents for damages exceeding the policy limits.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving a teen driver, an Atlanta car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and guide you through your next steps.
What Should You Do When a Minor Causes an Accident?
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident with a careless teenager can be frustrating. However, taking the right steps following the crash will help protect your right to fair compensation.
Here’s what to do if you are a victim of a teen driver’s negligence:
- Remain calm and wait for the police if needed to get insurance details from the teen.
- Note any signs of intoxication, like slurred speech or discarded containers.
- Report any observed reckless behaviors to the responding officer.
- File a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
- Get medical help right away to document your injuries.
- Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for guidance.
The moments and hours after an accident can be stressful and chaotic. Having an action plan helps you effectively gather evidence, get medical attention, and take steps to pursue fair compensation for your losses. One of our attorneys can provide legal advice and build a solid case on your behalf.
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How Do You Pursue Damages After an Accident with a Minor?
If a minor driver causes an accident in Georgia, their parents’ insurance company should compensate you for your injuries and losses.
Examples of negligent driving by a teen that may warrant a claim include speeding, distracted driving, recklessness, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Proving the minor’s negligence through evidence is key.
Most teen drivers are covered under their parent’s auto insurance, but additional options for compensation may include directly suing the parents. Whether through insurance negotiations or a personal injury lawsuit, our team is here to fight for the compensation you deserve.
When Are Parents Liable for Car Accidents Their Children Cause?
Parents may be liable for car accidents caused by their minor children in certain situations under GA Code § 51-2-2. One way is through “vicarious liability,” which holds parents responsible for their child’s negligence.
Specifically, a parent may be negligent and liable for damages if:
- They entrusted the vehicle to the underage driver.
- They knew or should have known the child was an incompetent or irresponsible driver.
- The child’s negligence caused the accident and your injuries.
Georgia’s “family purpose doctrine” can also establish liability if:
- The parent owned, controlled, or made the vehicle available for family use.
- The underage driver was part of the immediate household.
- The parent allowed the child to drive the vehicle, either explicitly or implicitly.
In cases exceeding insurance limits, negligent parents or those who provided a family vehicle may be liable for uncovered losses. After an accident that a young driver caused, an experienced attorney can be invaluable in establishing parental negligence.
How Dangerous Are Teen Drivers?
Unfortunately, new teen drivers are far more likely to be involved in collisions than experienced adults. According to statistics from the CDC, drivers aged 16–19 are nearly three times as likely to experience a fatal accident compared to those over 20. The risks are doubled for male teen drivers and increase with additional passengers.
Georgia law reflects these heightened dangers by extending liability to parents. Per GA Code § 51-2-3, parents can be held accountable when a child causes vehicle accident damage or intentional harm. Parents may also incur up to $10,000 in liability plus court costs if their child acts willfully or maliciously.
Given the data showing dramatically increased risks for young motorists and the potential for liability, parents should closely monitor their teens’ driving habits.
Free Consultation Regarding Your Personal Injury Claim
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in an auto accident in Georgia, reach out to our personal injury attorneys right away for a free case review. John Foy & Associates has been representing Georgia car accident victims for over two decades, and we understand the intricacies of cases involving minors.
Our legal team will thoroughly investigate the accident, build a strong claim proving negligence, and seek compensation for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other losses. We do this by negotiating with insurers and pursuing additional damages from the minor driver’s parents when applicable.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.