When kids crash cars can the parents also pay?

The world would be much simpler if each accident resulted in, “he hit me… he pays”. But unfortunately this explanation does not always sit well with both the defendant and the plaintiff.

One more complicated version of an at-fault accident is called negligent entrustment. An example of this accusation would be if a person, or primary party, sued a boy’s parents, for allowing their son to drive a car, even though he was an inexperienced and unfit driver, and the boy hit and injured the primary party.

By definition, negligent entrustment is a claim that a primary party is to blame, because they entrusted a secondary party with an object or ability, who then injured a third party with that entrusted object or ability.

In this claim, the plaintiff must prove that

  • The defendant expressly or impliedly permitted the driver to drive his or her vehicle
  • The driver was an unfit driver
  • The defendant knew or should have known the driver was unfit
  • The driver was negligent as a result of the unfitness

In the case of suing the parents of a teen driver, the plaintiff must prove all of the above accusations.  The parents could be held accountable for the accident, because they allowed their son, an unfit driver, to drive their car and the teen driver was negligent due to his unfitness.  In Virginia, the innocent plaintiff can collect damages against the young or unfit driver and, if the facts support the claim, also against the negligent car owners who let the unfit driver operate their motor vehicle.

The idea that an unfit driver does not always put his or herself behind the wheel comes up all the time, but sometimes people overlook negligent entrustment.

The best way to determine what claims can be made (and won) and who may be responsible for your losses is by consulting an experienced trial lawyer.

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