Our readers may be aware of the case of a Bakersfield woman who is facing criminal charges after her unlicensed teen caused a fatal car crash this summer. According to police, the 15-year-old boy drove into a local park after speeding through the streets at 100 miles per hour.
When police tried to stop him, he reportedly sped off and into a tree. He and two of the other teens suffered relatively minor injuries, but the teen in the front passenger seat suffered a fatal head injury.
The driver’s mother is facing multiple charges involving child cruelty and allowing her unlicensed son to operate a car. She reportedly claims she gave her teen the keys to the car so he could go to the grocery store for her. Instead, he apparently picked up a few friends and went for a “joy ride.” He has been charged in juvenile court with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, fleeing the scene and other offenses.
What does California law say?
This is certainly an extreme and tragic case. However, it’s important to note that California parents and guardians can be held at least civilly liable if a minor, licensed or not, causes a crash.
Specifically, California law states, “Any civil liability of a minor, whether licensed or not… arising out of his driving a motor vehicle upon a highway with the express or implied permission of the parents or the person or guardian having custody of the minor is hereby imposed upon the parents, person, or guardian and the parents, person, or guardian 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.”
When someone is injured by an at-fault teen driver, it’s important to know that aside from the insurance they’re required to have (usually through their parents’ policy), their parents may also be able to be held liable as well. Having experienced legal guidance if you’re involved in a crash caused by a teen (regardless of their license status) can help you seek the compensation you deserve.