You’re probably used to your kids messing up now and then: breaking the nice china, tracking mud into the house, or forgetting to feed the dog. But now that your kid isn’t so little anymore, they can get into some more serious trouble.
And that can include car accidents.
Once you’ve confirmed your teen wasn’t injured in the accident, you now have to deal with the consequences of the mechanical, legal, and insurance variety. We’ve touched on the 6 things you should know about the car accident claims process in a previous blog, but there’s one question that everyone has after they get in an accident: will my insurance go up?
In the case of your teen, it depends, although the answer is often yes.
The first thing to know: you are not necessarily liable
There is somewhat good news! Under Texas law, you are not held personally liable for your child’s negligent acts.
So even if your teen might be at fault for the accident, that doesn’t mean you will be held legally responsible, or that it will affect your driving record.
However, if the other people involved in the accident can prove you negligently entrusted your vehicle to your child, you might be liable for a negligent entrustment suit. For example, you might be liable for causing the accident if you lent out your car even though you knew one of the following:
- Your teen didn’t have a license
- Your teen had a history of reckless driving
- Your teen was under the influence at the time
This outcome is much less common, however. More often than not, it will be your child that’s found liable, not you.
Unfortunately, your insurance will probably go up.
Just because the court doesn’t penalize you for your teen’s accident doesn’t mean your insurance company won’t.
If your child is included on your car insurance plan, their accident could cause your insurance company to raise your rates the next time your policy is renewed.
Sometimes, car accidents can result in insurance hikes as high as 50%. Of course, the specific consequences will vary with your insurance company. It can be useful to look into your specific policy to find out information on how they calculate your rates.
It’s also important to be vigilant when dealing with your insurance company or the insurance company of the other people involved in the accident. Check out our article on 12 shady insurance company tactics to make sure you’re not being swindled out of a fair deal.
If it happens again, you might have more problems down the road
The good news is that these rates won’t last forever. Assuming your child stays on their best behavior and doesn’t get into any more trouble on the road, your rates should go back to normal within 6 months to 3 years.
But if your teen develops a pattern of fender benders, your insurance company might classify them as an “at-risk” driver or another related term that allows them to charge you astronomical premium rates.
In addition, as mentioned above, if your teen has a record as a reckless driver, you could potentially be liable in Texas for negligent entrustment if your teen gets into another accident.
To avoid legal and insurance woes further down the road, encourage your teen to be as careful as possible while behind the wheel. Defensive driving classes or driving a car with advanced safety features can also demonstrate to your insurance company that your teen is cleaning up their act.
Contact an El Paso car accident lawyer today
Whether it’s a five-year-old tracking mud on the carpet or a fifteen-year-old texting while driving, kids can cause some serious trouble sometimes. The good news is that Clark Harmonson is here to help. Schedule your free consultation today.