What To Do If Your Child Causes a Car Accident in Florida


If your child causes a car accident in Florida, you may be exposed to civil liability for the child’s negligence.

A money judgment could be entered against you for the victim’s injury even if you were not in the car when the accident happened.

Liability For Your Child’s Car Accident

The general rule in Florida is that each driver is responsible for their own negligence while driving. If your child causes an accident the other party may sue your child. You, as their guardian, would represent your child in a court proceeding unless your child is over 18 years of age. Minor children rarely have assets in their own name that could be subject to a liability judgment.

In Florida, there are rules applicable to teen drivers that make the parent liable for the teen’s own negligence. There are two ways you can be held liable for your child’s auto accident: (1) signing the child’s driver’s license application and (2) owning the car.

Signing the Driver’s License Application

A minor’s application for a driver’s license must be signed by an adult, usually the parent. The adult signing the application states that they will be financially responsible for the child’s car accidents. The adult liabilit remains in effect until the child turns 18. A child who is at fault in a car accident can make the responsible parent liable for the victim’s damages to his person and vehicle.

Owning the Car

Florida law imposes liability on the owner of a vehicle that causes a car accident. This law applies in any car accident, not only in car accidents caused by your children.

You are financially liable for damages caused by your own car if someone else was driving with your permission.

Florida law protects car owners from personal liability if the car owner has adequate liability insurance. In most cases, liability insurance of $500,000 or more will excuse you from vicarious liability caused by cars titled in your own name.

How Do You Protect Yourself?

Adequate liability insurance and asset protection planning will protect you financially from a car accident caused by your minor child.

Adequate Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is the first line of defense against car accidents. Most car accident legal claims are settled at or below insurance limits unless damages far exceed insurance coverage. We recommend that our asset protection clients maintain at least 300,000/500,000 liability coverage.

We suggest wealthier clients have umbrella coverage of at least $1,000,000. Few plaintiff attorneys will refuse a substantial insurance payout to pursue parents personally for a teen accident.

Liability insurance for a teen driver can be expensive, and too many people try to get by with minimum liability insurance for teenage drivers. The insurance expense is worth it to obtain the protection of your assets once your teen obtains their driver’s license.

Asset Protection Planning

Asset protection planning arranges family assets in a manner that protects them from car accident risk. Asset protection provides peace of mind that family wealth will not be decimated because of an accident caused by a teen driver that results in damages exceeding your insurance limits.

Here are some asset protection strategies related to teen driving risk:

  1. Have any car a teen will be driving in the name of one married spouse but not both spouses jointly.
  2. The spouse who owns the teen’s car should be the same parent who signs the teen’s driver’s license application.
  3. The spouse accepting financial risk for teen driving should not own any non-exempt assets in their individual name.
  4. Marital assets should be titled as tenants by entireties, so they are protected from lawsuits against the spouse who owns the teen’s car and applied for the teen’s driver’s license.
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.