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Who Is Liable if the at-Fault Driver Is Underage in a St. Louis Car Accident?

What happens if an underage driver causes an accident? Who will cover the cost of your injuries and damages? Here’s what you need to know. 

In most US states, the legal age for driving a car is as early as 20 years old. However, just because the law allows them to get behind the wheel at an early age, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be on their own from the beginning. Unfortunately, statistics show that underage drivers are more likely to cause accidents, due to inexperienced driving, a predisposition to speed, or to be distracted when behind the wheel

What happens if an underage driver causes an accident? Who will cover the cost of your injuries and damages?

Here’s what you need to know. 

Who Is Liable for an Accident Caused by an Underage Driver?

When giving a minor the right to drive, the law requires certain conditions to be met. One of the most common systems that give a minor the right to operate a vehicle is the graduated driver’s system. It allows young drivers to gradually gain experience behind the wheel before they can operate a vehicle on their own. 

Before the underage driver gains full privilege (a standard driver’s license), they must be supervised by an adult when driving, and go through certain tests. In case of an accident, the system that granted the right to drive a car to the at-fault driver will directly influence the liability.

If the minor driver was supposed to be supervised, and they weren’t, parents will generally be held responsible for any damages they inflict. 

Parental Responsibility Laws

Most states recognize the liability of parents of underage drivers who cause accidents on the road. In Missouri, parents are generally responsible for their minor child’s illegal driving, as long as the driver is younger than 18 years old and unemancipated from them. 

Depending on the state, the parents are responsible for accidents caused by unsupervised minors to a certain age. Make sure to check what your state law says to correctly assess liability in your case. Speaking with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney is the best option, as they will know the law requirements and how to establish compensation for your damages.

If the parents can prove that they were not aware of their child’s illegal driving, or intention to use the car without their supervision, they might not be financially liable for the damage inflicted by the underage driver. In this case, and if the vehicle is in the underage driver’s name, they will be held liable for the damage they cause.

Speak With an Experienced St. Louis Auto Accident Attorney

Since accidents involving minors involve other laws besides the usual liability ones, it’s best to speak with an experienced St. Louis auto accident lawyer if you are the victim of a car crash with an underage driver. Doing so will ensure that your legal rights are protected right from the start of your car accident claim.

Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer

Don’t talk to an insurance claims adjuster before speaking with The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. We can help you avoid making statements that may affect the outcome of your case. The consultation is free; you don’t pay unless we get you money!

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Updated: July 16, 2023