The freedom that comes with a teenager getting a driver’s license comes great with responsibility for that teen, as well as the parents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens nationally. Furthermore, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there are over 17,000 car accidents involving drivers between the ages of 15 and 17. That accounts for 16% of all car crashes in Florida.
Although a teenager is eligible to get a driver’s license at the age of 16, you as the parent (or legal guardian) are legally responsible until your teen turns 18. When your teen applied for a driver’s license, you as the parent also had to sign a form that confirmed that you are financially responsible for his/her negligent actions or willful misconduct when driving.
Even when your teen turns 18 your responsibility may not end. Florida recognizes the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine” which means that the owner of a motor vehicle is liable for its negligent operation. Such is the case when your son or daughter take your car to college and cause an accident.
Therefore, it is very important to make sure that you carry adequate liability insurance coverage for your teen driver. Your failure to do so may ultimately lead to your own financial hardship. Aside from carrying adequate insurance, it is important to continue to educate and set strict rules for your teen when driving. Create a parent-teen driving agreement so your teen has a clear set of expectations and rules. A sample agreement with consequences to fill in if these rules are not followed can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/parentsarethekey/agreement/index.html
One of the biggest worries for a parent or guardian is when their teen starts driving. It is imperative that we make sure that there are adequate safeguards, insurance, and clear rules in place to ensure their safety, and in turn to help to ensure the safety of others on the road. If you have any questions about insuring or any other issues surrounding your teen driver please contact the attorneys at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith so we can help provide some clarity with these issues.
This blog is written by Partner Glenn Siegel.