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Who's liable if a teen causes a car accident?

Statistics show that teen drivers are among the most dangerous on the roads. That's why many states, including Missouri, have graduated licensing programs. These allow teens to gradually gain driving privileges such as driving alone and at any time of the day or night as they demonstrate their ability to drive safely.

They are required to have insurance, which parents of teen drivers can attest is not inexpensive. Here in Missouri, drivers must have a minimum of $25,000 per person coverage and $50,000 per collision for bodily injury. They must also have at least $10,000 coverage for property damage.

However, what happens if get into an accident that was caused by a teen driver? If the teen was driving a car owned by a parent or guardian, that adult can be held liable for something called negligent entrustment under what's generally referred to as the "family car doctrine."

If a teen is driving a friend's car at the time of the crash, the person who owns the car can be held liable. This is generally referred to as "owner's liability" or "vicarious liability." It may be possible to hold both the teen and the vehicle owner liable.

If the teen is uninsured, you face the same issues as you would with any at-fault driver that doesn't have insurance. That's why it's wise to have insurance coverage for uninsured and underinsured motorists. However, if that's not sufficient to cover the costs of medical care, damages and other expenses, you may be able to hold the parents, vehicle owners and even the teen him/herself liable.

If you're involved in an accident with a teen driver, you may be wise to consult with a Missouri personal injury attorney to help ensure that you get the compensation you need.

Source: FindLaw, "Are Teen Drivers Liable for Car Accidents?," Brett Snider, Esq., accessed Jan. 31, 2017

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