Accidents involving teen drivers cause billions of dollars in losses each year (Center for Disease Control). Despite graduated license policies and no-tolerate laws, the fatal accident rate for teens is still almost three times higher than it is for older drivers (IIHS). If you’re in a crash involving a teen, you may wonder if you can get compensation. Our Kansas City car accident lawyer team explains compensation for teen driver accidents.
Can I get compensation after a crash involving a teen driver in Missouri?
When a crash involves a teen driver in Missouri, you may pursue compensation in multiple ways. The owner of the vehicle must have minimum amounts of insurance that victims may access to cover damages. In addition, the owner of the vehicle may be liable for negligent entrustment of the vehicle or because of the family purpose doctrine.
Missouri is a fault state for car accidents, so the teen must be at fault for causing the accident for you to get compensation from them or from the vehicle owner after a crash.
How do I get compensation for a teen driver crash in Missouri?
Missouri is an at-fault state, so the first step in seeking compensation for a teen driver crash in Missouri is to determine fault for an accident. If the teen driver is determined to be at fault for the accident, you may purpose compensation through the following avenues:
1. Insurance for the teen’s vehicle
Missouri mandatory insurance laws apply to teen drivers. The owner of the vehicle must have minimum insurance including $25,000 per person and $50,000 total bodily injury, plus $10,000 for property damage. Vehicle insurance may be available to pay compensation up to policy limits.
2. Negligent entrustment
A vehicle owner may be liable for compensation for a crash involving a teen driver based on negligent entrustment. For liability to apply, the driver must have known – or should have known – that the teen was unqualified to operate the vehicle.
A teen driver may be legally incompetent because of age, inexperience or habitual recklessness. That is not to say that negligent entrustment liability applies in all cases involving teen drivers. Rather, there must be circumstances showing that entrustment of the vehicle to the teen was inappropriate in that particular situation (See Bell v. Green, 423 S.W.2d 724, 732 (1968)).
3. Family purpose doctrine
The family purpose doctrine may make a parent liable for damages in some circumstances. The law creates liability for a parent when the parent provides a vehicle for family use. Whether the family purpose doctrine applies depends on the reason the teen drives the vehicle. It must be driven for a family purpose, essentially creating an agency relationship between the parent and child. (See Mebas v. Werkmeister, 299 S.W. 601 (Mo. Ct. App. 1927); McHaffie v. Bunch, 891 S.W.2d 822 (1995)).
4. Permitting a child under 16 to drive
Missouri law § 302.250 prohibits a person from knowingly permitting their child under 16 to drive a motor vehicle. The parent may be legally liable for compensation for violating this statute.
5. Your own uninsured/underinsured policy
If compensation is not available from any other source, your own uninsured or underinsured policy may pay compensation for an accident involving a teen driver. Drivers in Missouri are required to carry this kind of insurance.
Does Missouri recognize the family purpose doctrine for car accidents?
Missouri allows the victim of a car accident to claim compensation from a family member who owns the vehicle if certain conditions are present. The family purpose doctrine applies when a person furnishes the vehicle for the pleasure and convenience of others in the family.
Pursuing compensation when a minor causes an accident
There are several ways to pursue compensation after a crash involving a minor teen driver. There should be an insurance policy to cover damages – either the owner of the teen’s vehicle or your own uninsured/underinsured coverage. However, there are multiple ways a parent may be liable for their teen causing an accident including negligent entrustment of the vehicle and family purpose liability.
Lawyers for car accidents involving teens
Our car accident lawyers in Kansas City help victims explore all avenues for financial compensation. Contact the Krause & Kinsman Law Firm today for a free case evaluation.