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Who is liable if teens cause auto accidents with the family car?

Getting their driver's license is a right of passage for many teenagers in Massachusetts. While some teens may have their own car to drive, many times teens borrow mom or dad's car if they don't have a vehicle of their own. However, teens oftentimes lack the maturity and experience that older drivers have. They may be more likely to be involved in an auto accident. If they cause a car crash while using their parent's vehicle, the question of liability is likely to arise.

Many states follow what is known as the "family car doctrine." This doctrine basically means that if a parent owns a family vehicle and allows their teen or even another family member to use the vehicle, the parent who owns the vehicle may be responsible for car accidents caused by the person driving the family vehicle.

Even states that do not have "family car doctrine" laws still often have laws regarding "negligent entrustment." This means that if a parent was negligent in allowing the teen to operate the parent's vehicle, the parent could be financially responsible should the teen cause an accident. This is because the parent had reason to believe the teen shouldn't drive the car, but let the teen do so regardless.

So, those who are injured in a car crash caused by a teen driver may also be able to hold the teen's parents responsible for the collision. It is important in any personal injury case that the right defendants are identified, so the victim can pursue the full amount of compensation they are entitled to. Parents must act responsibly when allowing their teen to use the family vehicle. If a parent was negligent in doing so, and the teen causes a collision, those injured in the collision will want to determine if they can name both the teen and the parent as defendants in a possible legal claim.

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