Can Parents Be Liable For Car Accidents of Their Adult Child?

Most people know that a parent can be liable for accidents caused by their minor children. But can a parent be liable for an accident caused by adult children?

The answer is yes. A parent can be held liable for the accidents of their adult child as long as the child is a legal dependent and is claimed as a tax dependent on the parent’s tax return.

So, even if you are not on the title to your child’s car, and the child had their own insurance, you still could be liable for their accidents if they are your legal dependent.

In that circumstance, you should raise the liability limits on the child’s separate insurance to match the parents’ liability levels in order to bring the child under the parents’ umbrella liability policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can parents be held liable for their adult child’s car accident?
Generally, parents are not liable for the actions of their adult children. However, there are exceptions depending on the circumstances and state laws.

Under what circumstances can parents be liable for their adult child’s car accident?
Parents can be liable if they own the vehicle involved in the accident, if the accident occurred while the child was performing a task for the parents, or if the parents negligently entrusted the vehicle to an unfit driver.

What is negligent entrustment?
Negligent entrustment occurs when a parent allows their child to drive a vehicle knowing the child is inexperienced, unlicensed, or otherwise unfit to drive, leading to an accident.

Does parental liability differ if the adult child is living at home?
Living arrangements do not typically affect liability; the key factors are vehicle ownership and the circumstances under which the vehicle was used.

Can parents be sued if their adult child is listed on their insurance policy?
While parents may not be directly liable, their insurance policy may be used to cover damages if the adult child is a named insured or listed driver.

How can parents protect themselves from liability for their adult child’s car accidents?
Parents can protect themselves by not allowing unfit drivers to use their vehicles and ensuring proper insurance coverage.

Jon Alper

About the Author

I’m a nationally recognized attorney specializing in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from the University of Florida Law School and have practiced law for almost 50 years.

I have been recognized as a legal expert by media outlets such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors.