Assigning liability in accidents caused by teen drivers

For teens, earning a driver's license can be a watershed moment in their lives. Yet for the drivers that they now share the road with in San Antonio, the risk of being involved in an accident with these new motorists goes up. Some may simply dismiss this assertion as an assumption, yet statistics seem to verify it. According to information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers are more likely to engage in reckless driving practices such as speeding, following other vehicles too closely or driving while intoxicated or impaired. 

Those involved in car accidents caused by teen drivers may face expenses so inordinate that they are left with little choice but to pursue legal action. However, such parties may be able to recover little from a teen. Thus, the law allows for vicarious liability to be placed on those who enabled reckless motorists to drive their vehicles (albeit only in certain situations). Those in the legal community refer to this particular example of liability as negligent entrustment

Some may mistakenly think that negligent entrustment allows car accident victims to go after a teen's parents or guardians (or whomever allowed him or her to use a car) in any situation. The Supreme Court of Texas, however, has established certain criteria that must be present in order for negligent entrustment to be applied to a case. These are: 

  • The vehicle owner entrusted it to an unlicensed, reckless or incompetent driver
  • The owner should have reasonably known the driver to be unlicensed, reckless or incompetent 
  • The driver did display negligence 
  • That negligence did indeed cause an accident

In the case of teen drivers, their inexperience behind the wheel may be cited as a proof of their limited driving capacity when citing negligent entrustment. 

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