Nervous teen on street after car crashing

Are Parents Liable for an Accident Caused by Their Teen?

Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law Oct. 31, 2023

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), teenage drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have a fatality rate in car crashes that is nearly three times higher than that of drivers aged 20 and above. This alarming statistic highlights the need for parents of teenage drivers to understand their responsibilities under Texas law. 

Being a parent or legal guardian of a minor carries several legal obligations and responsibilities. Under Texas law, parents and legal guardians can definitely be held liable for the injuries and damage caused by their minor child in any accident. If your child's negligent actions caused pain or suffering to someone else and you want to understand your parental liability and rights, you need to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney.

At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, our attorney provides personalized legal counsel and skilled representation to parents facing liability due to their children's actions. As your legal partner, we can analyze your case and outline a solid strategy to pursue the most favorable outcome for your specific situation. We're proud to serve clients across Houston, Texas. Call us today to schedule a consultation.  

Liability for Accidents in Texas 

Texas is an "at-fault" auto insurance state. This means that the person responsible for causing an accident is liable for damages. If you are found to be at fault, you could be held financially liable for the medical costs and property damage of any other individual involved in the accident. In addition, if your child was driving without a valid driver’s license or caused the accident while breaking traffic laws, you may also be held liable. 

It is important to understand how the laws in Texas apply to your particular situation and what options are available for you. Our knowledgeable attorney can review your case, evaluate your child's legal rights, and provide guidance on the best course of action to pursue. We have extensive experience in handling accident cases across Houston, Webster, and Pasadena, Texas. 

Are Parents Liable for an Accident Caused by Their Teen? 

Yes, parents may be held liable for the negligent or reckless actions of their teenage child and be required to pay medical bills, property damage costs, and other related expenses. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, it is possible that both the parent and teenager could be found legally responsible. To better understand your legal rights in this situation, here are different ways that parents or legal guardians may be held liable for accidents caused by their teen: 

Negligent Entrustment 

A parent or legal guardian may potentially be held liable for negligent entrustment if it can be established that the parent was aware or reasonably should have been aware of their child's inadequacy as a driver.  

Signing Liability Agreement/License 

Also, a parent or legal guardian who signs a liability agreement or license stating that they are supervising their teen and responsible for their actions will hold liability for accidents and injuries caused by the child.  

Vicarious Liability 

However, if the child caused the traffic crash while running errands for the parent or acting within the course and scope of the parent's instructions, such a parent may be held responsible for the accident. 

Parental Liability Law in Texas 

According to Texas parental liability law, a parent or legal guardian may be held liable for up to $10,000 in damages caused by their child. This includes medical bills, property damage, pain and suffering, and other financial costs that result from an auto accident involving the minor driver.  

Will Insurance Cover the Expenses?  

Generally, the at-fault party’s insurance will only cover damages up to the policy limits. If there are damages in excess of the insurance coverage, a parent may be held responsible for those expenses as well. Additionally, if the child is younger than 18 years old and does not have auto insurance in their name, the parents’ liability coverage on their own auto policy should provide some financial protection from damages.  

Motorists in Texas are required to have mandatory liability coverage with the following amounts:  

  • $30,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident, up to a total of $60,000 per accident; and  

  • $25,000 for property damage liability.  

If the minor was at fault in the accident, this liability coverage may help cover any expenses.  

Additionally, if the child was acting on behalf of their parent when they caused the accident, such as running an errand for their parents, the parent's insurance may be able to cover some or all of the damages.  

Can a Parent Be Sued in a Personal Injury Lawsuit?  

Yes, parents can be sued in a personal injury lawsuit. However, according to Hawaii law, parents and legal guardians are strictly liable for the injury and damage to their minor child caused by operating a motor vehicle.  

Thus, the claimant is not required to show that the child's parent or legal guardian was negligent with their children. To establish parental liability, the plaintiff only needs to prove that the child engaged in an act that caused injury or damage. Whether the act was negligent or intentional, the parent or legal guardian will be held strictly liable. 

Consult a Skilled Injury Attorney  

As a parent or legal guardian, you may be held civilly liable for your child's actions in Texas. However, trying to navigate these unfortunate situations without skilled representation can expose you to potential liability and other serious consequences. A personal injury attorney has everything necessary to protect your rights and walk you through the entire process.  

At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, we understand how stressful these times can be. Therefore, with our broad understanding of Texas's parental responsibility laws, our attorney can help you navigate the state's civil court system and walk you through every stage of the legal process. 

Contact us today to arrange a simple case assessment with a seasoned car accident attorney. Our trusted lawyer has the zealous representation and reliable guidance you need in your case.