Family Law

Juvenile Hit and Run: Are the Parents Liable?

Increasingly, the largest proportion of persons who engage in hit and run accidents are not the oldest but the youngest drivers. This is because new drivers are the most likely to be involved in accidents, both because they are the least experienced and because they are generally overconfident. Combine this with a desire not to let their parents (or the police) find out about the accident and it’s no wonder that so many teens choose to flee the accident and turn one problem into two. As such, many parents worry that they will be held liable for the misdeeds and accidents of their children.

Can Parents Be Held Liable for Juvenile Hit and Run?

In a word, no. Unless the parent played an active role in causing the hit and run, such as demanding that the driver flee the scene, they cannot be held liable. Whatever one’s personal stance on personal liability, American courts have refused to hold parents liable for the actions of their children unless they have ordered, coerced or demanded that the children take such an action. As such, if your child is involved in a hit and run accident, especially if he or she tries to hide it from you or lies about its occurrence, then it is almost certain that you cannot be held liable.

What Can I Do To Prevent It?

Your only option to protect your son or daughter from getting caught in this sort of situation is to convince them that they should take pains to avoid it. Teach your children not only to drive responsibly, but to stop at any accidents they are involved in and exchange information instead of trying to flee. For example, any Atlanta injury lawyer will tell you that the strongest factor indicating guilt in most auto accidents is an attempt to flee the scene, especially if police officers have arrived or the accident is particularly grievous in nature. As such, knowing to keep calm while not admitting guilt or trying to flee is important for any driver in such a situation.

What if it happens?

If any of your children are involved in a hit and run, it’s important to consult the best attorney for you such as one that specializes in Atlanta auto accident legal help. A hit and run is a serious crime and can result in the loss of a license, massively increased insurance rates, and even high fines and jail time if there are significant injuries. Running away is also often seen as an admission of guilt, and so even if your son or daughter was not responsible for the accident, the injured party may try (sometimes even successfully) to force them to pay for all resulting damages and injuries because they attempted to flee. As such, not attempting to flee and not admitting guilt is important, and in the event of any serious auto accident (especially one with physical injuries) you should seek legal protection as soon as charges are filed.Car accidents are inherently scary and they are all the more frightening for young drivers. Teenagers are very emotional people with limited experience in the world, and as such they are likely to panic when faced with an unexpected situation where they may fear punishment or injury. As such, training and preparing your children ahead of time won’t just help them avoid accidents, it will help keep them from turning one problem into two by running away from one.

Molly Henshaw is a law student and freelance writer. She is also a contributing author for the Atlanta law firm of Buddoo & Associates. Finding the right attorney is essential after an accident to help protect your children’s rights!