Can I be held liable for my 18 year old son's driving accident?

by Mark
(Vancouver, WA)

My son is 18 and will be 19 soon. He lives at home with us. I want to know, if he injures someone in a car accident, are we going to get sued? My choices are to have the car registered to him with his own insurance, or to co-own his car and put him on our insurance. I do have a million dollar umbrella policy.

What choice most greatly limits my liability? Is there anything else I can do to remove or decrease my liability if he gets into a car accident? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Can I be held liable for my 18 year old son's driving accident?":

Mark (Vancouver, WA):

For legal purposes, at 18 years old your son is an adult. As an adult he will be legally responsible for property damage or personal injuries caused by his negligence. Learn more about the concept of negligence in personal injury claims here and here.

If though, your son is driving your car at the time he causes an accident, then he and you will be liable. In such a scenario, your insurance company will pay the other driver's damages, which can include medical and/or therapy bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If you register the car solely in your son's name and he causes an accident, you would not be liable. Only your son and his insurance will cover the damages caused, even if you are helping pay for the car.

The most effective way to not only lower, but entirely eliminate your potential liability is to have the car registered solely in your son's name. Of course, the car should be insured, whether you pay the premiums or he does, or premiums are shared. Your son's living at home has no bearing on your liability for an accident he may cause.

He doesn't have to pay rent, or otherwise separate himself form you to keep you insulated from liability for an accident he may cause. He simply must have the car registered in his name, and have separate insurance.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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