The term vicarious liability may appear meaningless to most people; but, for parents with teenage drivers, it is a term they should become very familiar with. Vicarious liability is a legal theory that holds a person responsible for the actions or omissions of another. This concept could mean significant liability for parents with teen drivers.
How Florida is Bringing Awareness
Florida law §322.09 requires parents to sign the application of any minor under the age of 18 that applies for a driver’s license. By signing this application, the parent is agreeing to be liable for “any negligence or willful misconduct of a minor under the age of 18 years when driving a [vehicle on] a highway.” The parent will be jointly and severally liable with the minor for the damages caused by the minor’s negligence or willful misconduct. This means that the party injured because of the teen’s negligence would be able to collect all of the damages awarded to them from the parent.
Since motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death amongst teenagers, it is important that something is done to teach teens safe driving habits. In 1996, Florida became the first state to enact graduate driver licensing laws. These laws were passed with the primary focus of decreasing the risk of injury and death for teenagers by introducing the phases of driving to help them gradually develop their driving skills and gain experience behind the wheel. This helps to ensure that teen drivers have mastered the rules of the road and have enough practice before they get behind the wheel. These laws allow teens who are 15 years old to get a learner’s permit and drive with licensed driver 21 years or older during restricted hours. Teenagers between 16 and 17 are allowed to get their driver’s licenses and are allowed to drive during designated hours. Teenagers age 18 and older are graduated to a non-restricted license and can drive at any time.
In addition, Florida’s Drive with CARE program helps to educate teens on safer driver habits and encourages their parents to model safer driving habits for their kids. Programs like these help bring awareness to driving safely, which in turn helps reduce accidents and injuries.
Incentives for Safety
Some insurance companies also offer discounts as incentives for teen drivers. These discounts help promote safe driving habits. Discounts for clean driving records, good grades, driver education, and defensive driving, encourage teen drivers to be more aware of the importance of driving safely on the road and to conduct themselves in a responsible manner.
Allowing your teenagers to get behind the wheel before they are truly ready is almost like handing them a blank check to do as they please. Additionally, an accident caused by an inexperienced teenage driver could cost you a lot more than money if your teenager or another person is seriously injured or killed. If you have been injured in an accident caused by a teen driver, it is important contact an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer. Contact Piccin & Glynn in Ocala today at 352-581-6174 to set up a free consultation for personalized and reliable advice, and to give you peace of mind about your case.