Not all car accidents are created equal. Should you be involved in a minor fender-bender in Westminster, then your repair costs (and medical costs, if there are any) are likely to be fairly low and will often be covered completely by auto insurance. High-impact collisions, on the other hand, can easily produce extensive damage to your vehicle and leave you and/or your family members facing enormous medical expenses. When this happens, you may be forced to seek compensation from the driver responsible. Yet if he or she is a teen, then he or she is unlikely to be able to help you. Can you then try to hold his or her parents responsible?
The legal principle of negligent entrustment allows you to assign liability to one who allowed another to driver to operate his or her vehicle. Per California's Civil Jury Instructions, the following elements must be proven in order to apply negligent entrustment to your case:
- A driver was negligent in operating a vehicle
- The driver had the vehicle at the permission of its owner
- The owner should have known the driver to be inexperienced, incompetent or reckless
- The owner knowingly entrusted the vehicle to the driver
- The driver's inexperience, incompetence or recklessness was a substantial factor in your accident
In the case of a teen driver, some may question why his or her parents should be held liable. While their willingness to allow their teens to drive their cars is understandable, they also must remember that inexperienced drivers are inherently more likely to cause accidents. Statistics also show that teen drivers are more likely to engage in reckless driving practices. These facts may be used to justify your claims that a parent should have known of his or her teen's driving tendencies.