Recently, two teenage girls, 16 and 17 years of age, stole a car and were driving around in it when they struck a pole on DeZavala Road, near Lockhill Selma Road. One of the girls became trapped in the car and had to be rescued by firefighters, and both girls were taken to a nearby hospital with “serious but non-life-threatening” injuries. While no other people were allegedly injured by the girls’ actions, this is often not the case when minors cause auto accidents, and both they and their parents can sometimes be on the hook for serious damages. If your child has caused a vehicle accident in Texas, you need to be aware of your position immediately, so you can protect yourself and your child as best you can.
While most parents do their best to prepare their kids for the so-called ‘real world,’ there are some things that come as a surprise even to them. One of those realities, for many people, is that parents can be held civilly liable for the actions of their children in many circumstances. Texas law specifically illustrates two: if the child is between the ages of 10 and 18, and their actions were “willful and malicious”; or if the courts can reasonably attribute the child’s “negligent” conduct to a “negligent failure” on the parent or guardian’s part. For example, if a parent knows that their child is prone to texting and driving, it might be considered a “negligent failure” to allow them to drive while still in possession of their cellphone.
That said, it is important to keep in mind that Texas’ parental liability statute only pertains to incidents of property damage – not to cases involving personal injury. The parents of the girls who hit the pole on DeZavala Road will likely be held liable for their daughters’ actions in causing damage to the car and the pole. However, if the girls’ actions had injured anyone else, the injured person would have to file a lawsuit in order to have a chance at recovery of their damages.
Texas law does not have a specific statute that assigns parental liability for a minor child’s actions, but this does not mean that the parents will never be held liable. It is possible, even common, for an injured plaintiff to file suit against a minor’s parents if they believe that the child’s actions were a result of parental negligence – in other words, if they can establish that they would not have been hurt if the child’s actions were supervised better, they may still be able to recover money damages from the parents.
Generally, if it can be established that a parent knew (or should have known) of their child’s predisposition to do something dangerous, and they do nothing to prevent it, the parent may then be on the proverbial hook in terms of liability. The texting and driving example is appropriate; if a parent knows that their teen commonly texts and drives, but still allow them to drive and have their cellphone, a driver injured by that teenager could sue the parent because they failed to prevent harm that was foreseeable.
Contact A New Braunfels Car Crash Attorney
While the girls who crashed into the pole on DeZavala Road currently face criminal charges of unauthorized use of a car, they and their parents may also face civil liability, depending on the owner of the property they damaged. Either way, you should be aware that if your minor children act negligently, you could be civilly liable for far more than you anticipate. The dedicated New Braunfels car accident attorneys at the Bettersworth Law Firm are experienced in these cases and can work with you to protect your children’s rights. Contact us today at 888-392-0039 for a free consultation.