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Are Parents Liable For a Child’s Car Accident In Michigan?

WRITTEN BY:
Steven Matz
November 29, 2023 | Car Accident

It is always tough to deal with a car accident regardless of who is involved, but a teenage driver can make it a bit more complicated. After all, the parents of that teenager can become involved in the aftermath and may have to consider immediate and long-term legal consequences for the accident. Parental liability is complicated, and the financial repercussions from this kind of auto accident can be severe, going far beyond a teen simply losing their driver’s license.

Increased insurance costs are only the beginning of the financial consequences after a teenager is involved in a car accident, as you may also have to deal with financial liabilities and legal actions being levied against you. Fortunately, a Michigan car accident attorney can help you navigate this complex system to help find a solution and increase your understanding of the situation and your parental responsibility. At Matz Injury Law, our experienced Michigan accident lawyers are happy to lend a hand. Call our team at Matz Injury Law at 1-866-22Not33 or contact us by filling out our online contact form for a free consultation.

What is Owner Liability in Michigan?

Owner liability in Michigan dictates that both the teenager and the parents of a teenager may be held liable for any injuries that result from a crash that the teenager caused. However, it is important to note that liability on behalf of the parents may not actually be applicable in situations where the teenager used the motor vehicle without the permission or knowledge of the car’s owner (usually the parent). However, This must be demonstrated, as Michigan law presumes that the teenager had consent from the vehicle owner if the teenager is an immediate family member or the owner is their legal guardian.

Negligent Entrustment in Michigan

Negligent entrustment is a separate consideration all parents of teenage drivers should consider. Put simply, negligent entrustment occurs when a parent gives their teenager permission to drive their car while knowing their teenager is not a safe driver.

Is a Parent Liable For a Child’s Car Accident In Michigan?

Negligent entrustment functions as a person allowing someone with an unsafe driving record on the road, creating more opportunities for accidents. In these cases, the parents can be held liable for any accidents caused by their teenager.

There is an inherent contradiction here. How can a bad teen driver ever improve at driving without being permitted to drive? This is a risk that parents will have to consider when determining whether or not their teenager is permitted to use their car. One possible remedy is letting them practice driving in a controlled location before taking it to the busy streets.

When Does Liability in a Michigan Car Accident Matter?

Michigan is a no-fault state, so you may think liability does not matter much. That only extends to the limits of personal injury protection insurance or PIP. If you sustain injuries exceeding the coverage limits of your PIP auto insurance policy, you will have to consider liability when pursuing compensation for the rest of your damages. This will have to be done through a third-party lawsuit, and the liability given to the parents of a teenage driver makes these lawsuits much more complicated. That is why having a Michigan car accident lawyer by your side is so important.

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Michigan’s Comparative Negligence Law

When it comes to third-party lawsuits seeking damages beyond PIP insurance, you must consider how comparative negligence works in Michigan. Personal injury law dictates that the amount of compensation you can receive is based on how responsible you are for the accident. If a teenager is deemed to be 20% responsible for an accident and is pursuing $100,000 worth of damages, such as medical bills or property damage after PIP coverage, they would only be eligible for a maximum amount of $80,000. Keep in mind that if your teenager is more than 50% responsible for the motor vehicle accident, it is likely that they will be facing a lawsuit from the injured person rather than filing one.

Are Teenagers the Most At-Risk For Car Accidents in Michigan?

Teenager behind the wheel of his car texting

When looking at car crash statistics, it is clear that teen drivers pose a higher risk for car accidents. That’s why it is common for insurance companies to charge more for policies that cover teenage drivers. About 3.6% of all licensed drivers are teenagers, yet they compose 9.3% of drivers involved in accidents. In terms of fatal accidents, teenagers are involved drivers 6.3% of the time with these potential wrongful death cases. Typically, the trend is that as drivers’ age increases, the likelihood of them being involved in accidents decreases.

When to Notify Your Insurance Carrier of a New Driver

Notify your car insurance carrier of a new driver as soon as possible. When your teenager gets behind the wheel, your insurer should already know about it. While insurance providers may have different timelines for notification, it is safest to always let them know beforehand. Plus, the vehicle the teenager drives must have no-fault insurance coverage before going on the road. There is no benefit to waiting, especially if you must file an accident claim sooner rather than later.

Tips for Parents to Help Your Child Be a Safer Driver

You cannot control what other drivers do, but you can help your teenager be one of the safer drivers on the road. Here are a few tips you can use to help your teenager be a safer driver.

  • Get involved in the teaching process
  • Set ground rules for music and electronics use
  • Teach responsibility behind the wheel
  • Accompany your teen while they are driving
  • Demonstrate safe driving practices yourself

Get Involved in the Teaching Process

While it may be easy to let your minor child simply go to a driver’s ed class, being personally involved with their driving education can make a significant difference. By being there during the most integral moments of their driving education, you can solidify safe driving lessons in a way that a third-party teacher would not be able to.

Set Ground Rules for Music and Electronics Use

Teenagers want to listen to music while driving, and there is not much anyone can do to stop that. Still, you can teach lessons about how music and electronic use should generally be handled when behind the wheel.

For example, set ground rules for music selection while driving. Some parents insist their teenagers set a playlist to play for their drive to limit their concentration on finding the right music accompanied by a max volume restriction. They simply hit play before setting out, and that is it. It is also important to emphasize how distracting phones can be, whether calling or texting.

Teach Lessons of Responsibility Behind the Wheel

Driving is more than just about getting from point A to B. When behind the wheel, a driver has to be considerate of everyone else on the road. They have a duty of care to uphold to consider not only their own safety but the safety of everyone else. With this in mind, your teenager will more likely be considerate of other vehicles and potential dangers they may face along the way.

Accompany Your Teen When They Are Driving

New teenage driver behind the wheel with his dad

While you cannot go out with your teen every time they take the car once they get their license, consider letting them drive on joint trips such as going to the grocery store. This will give them more opportunities to practice driving while having you there to guide them along the way and keep them practicing safe driving.

Be a Safe Driver Yourself

One way to help your teen become a safe driver is to abide by safe driving practices yourself. They will often copy your own driving style even if they do not realize it. That means you should always be wearing a seatbelt, maintaining an appropriate speed, and abiding by the rules of the road. If you fail to drive safely, your teen is more likely to view unsafe driving practices as permissible.

When Should You Contact an Attorney?

It is generally a good idea to contact an attorney in the wake of any kind of car accident from which you suffered damages. If your teenager was involved in an accident and the damages exceed the limits of your personal injury protection coverage, a Michigan car accident attorney could be integral in pursuing the rest of your damages. 

When you work with an attorney, they can do far more for you than simply represent you in court. They will work to make your case as strong as possible by collecting evidence, finding witnesses, and even taking photos of the accident scene to strengthen your case. This is also why you must contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for them to gather all the potential evidence that could benefit your case.

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At Matz Injury Law, our experienced Michigan car accident attorneys can help gather evidence, provide legal advice, and represent you in court if you are involved in a car accident. We also have experience working with cases involving teenagers, and all that experience will be put to work for you and your unique case.

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

When we establish an attorney-client relationship with our clients, we pride ourselves on open communication, individualized services, and a commitment to winning your case. After all, we do not get paid unless you win. Here is what a few of our previous clients have had to say.

Recent Client Testemonials

“Steve Matz deserves more than 5 stars! He went above and beyond to help me with my automobile accident/lawsuit, and stayed in constant contact with me. He cared about me as a person and how I was feeling or doing.  I will recommend him to anybody who ever asks me. He has been amazing!!!!!”

“Mr. Matz, I can never thank you enough for what you have done for us. Thank you for always being authentically and truly you. You are definitely a fighter for what’s right.” — Holly L.

“Steve was outstanding from the first telephone conversation all the way through until he settled my case at an amount that exceeded my expectations. He is a consummate professional and a compassionate attorney and I would highly recommend him if you ever find yourself in need of a personal injury attorney.” — Sharyn G.

Teenagers Are Held to the Same Standard When On the Road

Age does not matter when someone is behind the wheel. Everyone is responsible for being a safe driver and being courteous to other drivers and pedestrians to limit accidents as much as possible. While accidents happen, safe driving practices remedy the damages that can be suffered in the aftermath. If you or your teenager has been involved in an accident, Matz Injury Law stands ready to help.

Why Work With Matz Injury Law

At Matz Injury Law, we offer a lower contingency fee than most at only 22% of your winnings rather than the standard 33%. With our law firm’s unique approach and prior experience generating more than $300 million in compensation for previous personal injury clients, you can focus on recovery in the wake of an accident. At the same time, we take care of the legal issues for you. Get in touch with our team today by calling 1-866-22Not33 or by filling out our online contact form for a free consultation for your injury case.

steven matz headshot

Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.