Can we sue at-fault driver if we accept a payout from their insurance co?
(San Diego, California)
Our 17 year old son was injured as a passenger in a car accident. Full responsibility for the accident was placed on the 17 year old driver of the car our son was riding in. Their insurance coverage $100,000. Our son's medical bills are at $300,000.
How can we still go after the at-fault driver's parents if we accept the $100,000? Are there clauses that we need to be aware of that the insurance company will try to include in the acceptance agreement which absolve the driver's parents of further responsibility? What's the best way to handle a situation like this? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Can we sue at-fault driver if we accept a payout from their insurance co?":
Cathy (San Diego, California):
In California, parents may be held liable for property damage and personal injuries caused by their minor child when that child is driving upon a California roadway. The law reads in part as follows:
"Any civil liability of a minor arising out of his driving a motor vehicle upon a highway during his minority is hereby imposed upon the person who signed and verified the application of the minor for a license and the person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages proximately resulting from the negligent or wrongful act or omission of the minor in driving a motor vehicle..."
California Vehicle Code, Section 17707
From the facts you present, you may seek additional compensation from the driver's parents or the person who "signed and verified the application of the minor for a license."
It would however, be in your best interest and that of your son to seek legal counsel before signing any papers tendered to you by an insurance company, or any other party. Judging from the amount of your son's medical bills, his injuries are too serious for you to try to negotiate a settlement on your own.
Without seeing the release and waiver you may be asked to sign, we cannot know who you will be indemnifying or releasing from liability.
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,
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