According to CA Vehicle Code Section 17707: Parental Liability for a Minor Driving in California, a parent may be responsible for paying any damages caused by their child while driving. Minor children can only legally drive in the state with parental consent.
Vehicle Code 17707 is generally concerned with civil lawsuits. For example, those who suffer damages in an accident caused by a minor child may file a lawsuit against the child’s parents to recover the money they need. If you are being sued under California VC 17707, contact the Simmrin Law Group to learn about your legal options.
When a Parent Is Liable for Damages Caused by a Minor Child
In California, parents must sign a consent form before their child can acquire a driver’s license. Under California Vehicle Code Section 17707, parents assume liability for any accidents that their child causes while driving by signing this form.
This liability is known as parental liability and falls under the broader category of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is the process by which a party who did not directly cause an accident is held financially responsible for it. Aside from parents, one of the most commonly vicariously liable parties is an employer.
If a lawsuit gets filed against a minor driver in California, their parent could be responsible for paying the costs associated with:
- Medical bills
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
This list is far from exhaustive. Essentially, a parent may be responsible for any damages suffered by the accident victim.
Joint and Several Liability
California Vehicle Code 17707 states that a parent is “joint and severally liable” for the damages caused by their minor child. This wording means that the accident victim can file a lawsuit against the child, the parent, or both parties.
Is It Possible to Withdraw Your Consent for Your Child to Drive?
Under Vehicle Code 17707, parents can revoke their minor child’s right to drive just as they give it. You must file a Request for Cancellation or Surrender of a Driver License to withdraw your consent. You can file this form at any time, and your child will immediately lose their driving privileges.
If you don’t withdraw your consent, you will remain liable for any accidents caused by your child while driving until they reach the age of 18.
If an accident victim attempts to recover compensation from a parent for damages caused by their minor child, they must take several steps to establish liability. To hold a parent liable, the plaintiff must prove that:
- The child acted in a negligent manner while operating a motor vehicle
- The plaintiff suffered harm
- The negligence of the child played a significant role in the damage sustained by the plaintiff
- The parent had signed the child’s application for a driver’s license
- The parent had not revoked their consent for their child to drive
- The child’s driver’s license had not been otherwise canceled or revoked by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
Beyond establishing the above, the plaintiff must make a case for the damages they suffered, both of the economic and non-economic variety.
Defenses a Parent Can Use in a Lawsuit
If you are being sued for damages caused by your minor child under California Vehicle Code 17707, there are a variety of defenses you can employ to fight the lawsuit. Some of the most common arguments include:
- The vehicle supposedly being driven by the parent’s child was not in motion
- Someone other than the parent’s child was driving the vehicle
- The parent never signed their child’s application for a license
- The parent did sign the application but later withdrew their consent
- The child was forced to drive the vehicle due to an emergency
Before attempting to employ any of these defenses, it is essential that you speak with an experienced traffic violations lawyer. A lawyer can help increase your chances of beating a lawsuit against you or at least getting the amount you have to pay reduced. Additionally, a parent needs to understand what, if any, effect their defense will have on their child.
While a defense might eliminate your liability, it could put your child in a difficult legal position. An experienced attorney can help you weigh your options and decide how to proceed.
Get a Free Consultation From a Traffic Violations Attorney Today
If you are facing liability for the damages caused by your minor child driver under California Vehicle Code Section 17707, it is essential to get help from an experienced attorney. At the Simmrin Law Group, we have helped countless clients fight back against frivolous lawsuits.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to get started with a free, no-obligation consultation today. A member of our team will review your case and advise you of your legal options.