What if a Teen Driver is At-Fault for a Florida Automobile Accident? Who is Liable for the Personal Injuries Caused by the Crash
In the State of Florida, a teen can get behind of the wheel of a vehicle as the driver at the age of 15. Teens can get a Learner’s License or a Restricted Driver’s License at the age of 15. If the teen driver meets the necessary driving requirements and then passes the driver’s test, then, at the age of 16, a teen can get a driver’s license that does not have the restrictions on it. As such, in the State of Florida, we have teen drivers on the road between and including the ages of 15 through 19 years old. When a teen is at-fault for an automobile accident in the State of Florida, the issue or question that arises is who is responsible for the careless driving or negligence.
For purposes of this article, we are going to restrict the commentary to the teen drivers in the following age range: 15 year old to 17 years old. These drivers are still minors and the liability laws in Florida are different than those for an 18 year old or a 19 year old driver. Here are the potential people liable for the negligence driving of a teen in the 15 - 17 year old age range:
1. Teen Driver. That’s right, a teen can be sued for his or her own negligence arising from an automobile accident. The guardians or parents of the teen would need to be the representative relatives in the lawsuit but the teen himself or herself can be sued for his or her negligent actions or conduct. In the State of Florida, a child under the age of 6 years of age cannot be held liable or responsible for his or her negligent conduct. For children 6 years old and older, then a portion or even all of the negligence can be attributed to the child or teen.
2. Parent / Guardian Signing Parental Consent Form for Learner’s License. In order to obtain a restricted or learner’s license and later a driver’s license, there must be a parental consent form signed and on file with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. The form is signed when the child gets his or her learner’s permit and is in full force and effect from the child’s effective date of the learner’s license until the child’s 18th birthday UNLESS the parental consent form is revoked in writing OR a driver consent form is signed by another parent or guardian and the prior consent form is revoked.
3. Owner of the Motor Vehicle Driven by the Teen. In the State of Florida, a teen can be the registered owner of a motor vehicle. It is more common for the vehicle due to insurance and loan purposes to be owned by a parent, guardian, or another relative. In the State of Florida, the owner of a vehicle driven by a negligent teen OR other driver can be held liable for the resulting injuries and damages under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Law. Let’s say that a teen, with a perfect driving record, rear ends another vehicle and the occupants of the other vehicle suffer personal injuries. The teen was always a safe driver and there was nothing in the way of negligence or carelessness on the part of the parent allowing this responsible child drive the vehicle. Unfortunately, on this particular day, the child was not paying attention at a particular moment in time and crashed into the rear end of the vehicle in front of him. Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Law, the owner of the vehicle will be liable for the resulting injuries and damages.
As you can see, there are many twists, turns, and nuances to Florida law when dealing with the aftermath of an automobile accident. When dealing with personal injuries caused by a Florida Automobile Accident, it makes sense to contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for advice, guidance, and legal representation when appropriate.
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