When you're injured in a car accident caused by someone else, you often need financial compensation to help you fully recover. But can you get that compensation if you were hit by a driver who is a minor? The answer can be very complicated. Here's what you need to know to find the best path forward.
Can You Sue the Parents?
Many states have some form of law that places at least some responsibility for their child's actions on its parents. Known as parental responsibility laws, they automatically assign liability to a parent or guardian if the situation applies. For instance, Maine holds parents responsible only for willful and malicious damage by their minor child, and only up to $800. Other states may allow liability for negligence, and others fall somewhere in the middle.
Can You Sue the Insurer?
The good news is that there's a good chance that at least one insurance carrier may be financially liable. Car insurance often follows the vehicle rather than the driver. So if the minor had permission to drive it — or if permission is considered implicitly given by the circumstances — the insurer usually must cover the accident as if the policyholder was driving.
Can You Sue the Minor?
As with the ability to hold parents liable for a minor child's actions, the ability to sue the child depends on state laws. Some states hold minors largely to the same standard as adults if they are over a certain age or are participating in an adult activity. Driving a vehicle is a big responsibility, and it's often considered to be a qualifying adult activity.
In addition, your best chance at successfully suing a minor for an accident is if the minor intentionally caused damage. Negligence can be a tough sell when it comes to holding a child responsible. But if their actions went beyond simple negligence and strayed into malice and intent, the law is more likely to hold them accountable.
Where Should You Start?
Getting compensation for your injuries starts with determining who can be held financially liable. It then includes finding the right party or parties to pursue. Get help making the best decisions by meeting with a car accident attorney in your state today. No matter whether you can hold the minor, their parents, or their insurer liable, good legal representation will help you find the best path to success.
For more information, contact a car accident attorney near you.