California Vehicle Code 17707 VC: Parental Liability for a Minor Driving in California

According to California Vehicle Code 17707 VC parents can be held accountable for their minor child’s dangerous driving. If a minor child causes a collision, their parents can be compelled to compensate the injury victim for their damages in full.

If you are involved in a collision with a teen driver, you may have concerns regarding how you will access the financial compensation you are entitled to. After all, you should not be stuck covering your medical bills, paying for ongoing physical rehabilitation, and struggling to cope emotionally when someone else is at fault. But teen drivers do not have money to burn, and may not be able to cover the total value of your losses.

For this reason, under California Vehicle Code 17707 VC: Parental liability for a minor in California, a minor child’s parents can be sued for damages if necessary. Parents have a legal obligation to ensure their children drive safely, if at all. Failure to do so leaves the parents open to liability if their child ultimately causes a serious collision, bodily injury, or death. If you are having trouble completing daily living tasks on your own, are out of work, and floundering after the collision, you can take action.

With help from our unmatched California car accident lawyers from Text Kevin Accident Attorneys, you can fight for the compensation that is rightfully yours and ensure all parties who contributed to your injuries are held to account. Contact our legal team to schedule a 100% free consultation today and learn more about how Vehicle Code 17707 could impact the outcome of your personal injury case.

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Defining California Vehicle Code 17707 VC

After being involved in a collision with a minor child, you may be anxious to know which laws could have the greatest impact on your case. Fortunately, you may still be able to recover the compensation you deserve, as California Vehicle Code 17707 ensures parental liability applies. The statute reads:

“17707. Any civil liability of a minor arising out of his driving a motor vehicle upon a highway during his minority is hereby imposed upon the person who signed and verified the application of the minor for a license and the person 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, except that an employer signing the application shall be subject to the provisions of this section only if an unrestricted driver’s license has been issued to the minor pursuant to the employer’s written authorization.

No liability may be imposed under this section or under Section 17708 on the state or county, or on a probation officer or child protective services worker acting as an officer of the court for damages caused solely by the negligence or willful misconduct of a minor driver whose application for a driver’s license was signed by the child protective services worker or probation officer while the minor was a dependent or ward of the court.”

An Overview of California Vehicle Code 17707 VC

Here is a general overview of CVC 17707 and how it could impact your personal injury lawsuit:

  • When a minor causes a car accident, parents can be held vicariously liable
  • This means parents can be ordered to compensate injury victims when their children cause an accident
  • Injury victims have the authority to name the driver and their parents in a personal injury lawsuit and file a claim against the auto insurance policy
  • Injury victims will need to prove liability based on a preponderance of the evidence according to the Civil Jury Instructions Resource Center’s Civil Plain English Comparison under BAJI 2.60 for their lawsuits to be successful
  • Accident survivors have the right to be made whole, or compensated for every single way their lives are impacted by the injuries they sustain

Vehicle Code 17707 Makes Parents Liable for Their Minor Children’s Negligent Driving

According to California Vehicle Code 17707, though minor drivers may not have the funds to compensate injury victims, their parents can be named in a personal injury lawsuit if a negligent teen driver causes a collision.

Before a minor has the right to operate a motor vehicle on any of California’s public roads or highways, their parents must sign a consent form. When they sign this legally binding document, they are assuming responsibility for any collisions their children may cause while driving.

Parental Liability in Car Accident Lawsuits

Car accident victims may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit and insurance claim against anyone who is responsible for causing their collision or subsequent injuries. If you were hit by a negligent driver, parental liability may apply. For your claims to be successful, your car accident lawyer with Text Kevin Accident Attorneys must prove that the minor’s parents are liable and that the elements of negligence apply in your case.

How to Win a Car Accident Lawsuit Against a Minor Child’s Parent

If the driver that hit you was facing criminal charges, the prosecutor would need to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction. Likewise, in your car accident lawsuit, our legal team will need to be able to show the elements of negligence are present to meet the burden of proof, which is based on a preponderance of the evidence in personal injury claims. The elements of negligence in a parental liability car accident include:

  • The victim suffered serious injury, emotional distress, or property damages
  • A minor child’s negligent driving caused the collision
  • The minor’s parents allowed the child to obtain a driver’s license and authorized driving privileges

As long as the teen’s parents gave their consent for their child to drive, if the minor is found culpable for the accident, whether it be due to driver inexperience, drunk or drugged driving under California Vehicle Code 23152(f), driving while fatigued, speeding, tailgating, or any other type of unsafe driving behaviors, their parents can be sued.

It should be noted that if the child’s driver’s license was revoked or canceled by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, or the teen’s driving privileges were withdrawn by the parents, it may be more difficult to hold the parents accountable for their minor’s poor decisions.

Demand Maximum Compensation From Liable Parents

There is no reason you should be forced to suffer the consequences of someone else’s recklessness. The California civil court system agrees and ensures injury victims are compensated for their compensatory damages. These types of damages include a combination of economic and non-economic losses as described under California Civil Code 1431.2 to ensure you have access to the financial support you need to rebuild your life in more ways than one.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are some of the most frequently sought-after types of losses. They are financial and easy to calculate. Your personal injury lawyer with Text Kevin Accident Attorneys will carefully review your financial records, receipts, paystubs, employment contracts, vehicle repair quotes, and other documents to accurately calculate the value of your economic losses. Potentially recoverable economic damages in a car accident claim against a minor child’s parents include:

  • Loss of income and tips
  • Reduced earning potential
  • Ambulance bills
  • Medical equipment, including wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs
  • Medical home accommodations
  • Loss of benefits provided by your employer
  • The diminished value of your vehicle
  • Prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications
  • Any out-of-pocket expenses
  • Rental car costs
  • Transportation expenses to and from doctor appointments
  • Damage to your credit score
  • Increased auto insurance premiums

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible which makes them more difficult to evaluate. Since their value is subjective, we will need to closely evaluate the various ways your life has been impacted by your accident to determine how much you should be awarded in non-economic damages. Some examples of these losses could include:

  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Chronic pain
  • Physical suffering
  • Emotional trauma and distress
  • Inconvenience
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement
  • Skin scarring
  • Loss of consortium
  • Inability to complete daily living activities

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are not compensatory losses. This means they are not included as part of the damages you have the right to recover. Punitive damages under California Civil Code Section 3294 will generally only be issued if the defendant was operating a motor vehicle maliciously, had a history of dangerous driving, or intended to cause an accident which resulted in injuries. The California civil courts may impose punitive damages to send community members a message that similar behavior is intolerable and will be taken seriously.

Tip

If you hope to maximize the value of your car accident claim, keep a detailed journal of every way you have been affected by the accident. You should include information about your emotional state, activities you could no longer participate in, your relationships with family and friends, how your work has been impacted, and any other relevant details that could help the jury see that your compensation demands are reasonable and necessary.

How Parents May Attempt to Avoid Culpability

Do not expect the minor child’s parents to accept responsibility for their child’s negligence. In many parental liability situations, parents will make excuses for their children’s dangerous driving. Some of the most common defenses we see include:

  • The parent claims they never verified or agreed to allow their child to obtain a driver’s license
  • The parent argues that their child was not driving the vehicle at the time of the accident
  • The child needed to drive the motor vehicle because of a medical emergency
  • The parent claims their child was a passenger in the vehicle, not actively driving the car at the time of the collision
  • The parent alleges to have withdrawn their teen’s driving privileges
  • The parent blames the injury victim for causing the accident

Although parental liability forces many families to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid financial responsibility after a collision, with the right legal advocate handling your car accident case, you can demand justice. We will work tirelessly to ensure the parents and their children understand their responsibilities and are compelled to cover your losses as required by a court of law.

How a Reputable Car Accident Attorney Can Help You Make the Liable Parents Pay

Working with the right car accident lawyer could make all the difference in the outcome of your case. When you have Text Kevin Accident Attorneys handling the claims process on your behalf, you can focus on recuperating and rebuilding your life while we handle the legalities. You can rely on us to:

  • Challenge the defendant’s shared liability claims
  • Conduct an intensive investigation and gather valuable supporting evidence
  • Build a powerful case against the teen driver and their parents
  • Review your damages and calculate the true value of your claim
  • Negotiate with the parent’s insurance company
  • Prepare all court documents and legal filings
  • Advocate for your right to maximum compensation before a judge and jury in court
Pro Tip

Do not be afraid to exhaust every option for financial relief. You may have hoped to avoid bringing your car accident case to trial, but if the parent’s insurance policy does not cover your damages in full, going to trial may be the only way to recover every single loss. Insurance settlements typically only cover the property damages and medical bills, and only up to the policyholder’s policy limits. Filing a personal injury lawsuit removes these restrictions.

California Vehicle Code 17707 FAQ

Understanding the intricacies of 17707 VC can be difficult, particularly if you are still recuperating from your injuries. We understand how difficult your life must be during this time and have drafted a quick FAQ below that answers some of the top questions regarding parental liability in motor vehicle accidents.

If you have additional questions or concerns that are not discussed on this page, do not hesitate to consult our top-rated catastrophic injury lawyers from Text Kevin Accident Attorneys to request a free consultation.

What is joint and several liability?

CVC 17707 states that parents are “joint and severally liable” if their child causes damages in a car wreck. This means if a minor causes a collision or is otherwise responsible for the injuries a victim sustains, the injury victims have the right to file a personal injury claim against both the minor and their parents.

This is, in part, due to the fact that minors often do not have their own money to compensate victims when they drive negligently. By filing a claim against the teen that hit you and their parents, you can ensure the minor is held accountable for their recklessness and be awarded the financial compensation you are due.

Can parents withdraw their consent for their children to drive?

Yes, because parents are liable for their children’s accidents, they have the authority to withdraw their consent for their minor children to operate a motor vehicle. However, it is not as simple as grounding the children by taking away their driving privileges. Once a parent has given their consent for their children to drive, it is considered legally binding.

The only way these driving privileges can be officially revoked, and protect the parents from liability in a collision, is if the parents officially withdraw their consent for their child to operate a motor vehicle. To do this, the parents will need to submit a Request for Cancellation or Surrender of a Driver’s License. Upon filing this legal document, the minor child will immediately find that their driving privileges have been revoked.

What is the law of vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability is the legal doctrine that allows other parties to be held liable for injuries, even if they are not directly responsible for causing them. Without vicarious liability, parents could not be compelled to cover injury victim’s damages when their children engage in unsafe or negligent driving behaviors.

The vicarious liability doctrine requires the at-fault parties to compensate injury victims for the value of their economic and non-economic damages. Should punitive damages apply, individuals or entities who are vicariously liable could also find themselves facing additional financial punishment in the form of punitive relief.

Are parents liable if their minor engages in “willful misconduct”?

According to California Civil Code 1714.1, a minor’s parents or legal guardians can be held vicariously liable if their minor engages in “willful misconduct”. Guardians and parents can be compelled to cover up to $25,000 of the injury victim’s damages if their child’s negligence damages someone else’s property or causes injury or wrongful death to another.

For the minor’s actions to be considered “willful misconduct”, they must have intended to crash the vehicle, and cause property damages or serious bodily injury or death. Parents may be able to limit their financial liability by formally revoking their child’s driving privileges.

Note

It is important to note that the $25,000 maximum compensation for vicarious liability does not apply to non-economic damages. The $25,000 will cover strictly economic losses, such as medical bills, property damages, and loss of income. Parents and guardians can still be liable for the injury victim’s pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.

How long do I have to file a lawsuit against the teen driver’s parents?

Although you may not be anxious to move forward with the lawsuit, if you are interested in getting your expenses covered by the liable party, you will typically need to do so within two years of the accident. This is because, under California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1, the statute of limitations for a car accident and personal injury lawsuits will expire two years from the date of the collision.

If you have a minor child who suffered injuries, or you did not receive your diagnosis until several weeks or months after the wreck, the statute of limitations could toll. Here, the countdown will temporarily pause until you are officially diagnosed with injuries related to the collision or your child reaches the age of 18 and can file a lawsuit for themselves. If your car accident lawsuit is not filed before time runs out, the California civil courts may refuse to hear your case.

What if they blame me for causing the accident?

They probably will blame you for causing the accident. minors, their parents, and other liable parties may be unwilling to accept responsibility for their negligent actions. Since California follows pure comparative negligence laws under California Civil Code 1714, it is not at all unusual for injury victims to be blamed for the collision. If the defense can put more of the blame on you, they can effectively reduce the amount of compensation you recover.

Your portion of fault will be deducted from your payout. For instance, if the defense discovers that you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident as required, the judge might find you 5% liable for your injuries. In this case, you would only be entitled to 95% of your damages award.

Meet With a Highly Experienced Car Accident Attorney for Help Today

When you have suffered serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, you should not have to go through the claims process alone. With a dedicated car accident lawyer from Text Kevin Accident Attorneys handling your lawsuit and insurance claims, you can rest easier. We will use every possible resource to ensure the at-fault party covers the total value of your damages and suffering.

The law states under California Vehicle Code 17707 that the parents of a minor driver can be compelled to compensate injury victims if they cause a motor vehicle wreck. It is our goal to do whatever it takes to maximize your payout. Let us help you build the strongest case possible against the teen driver who hit you and their parents. Fill out our secured contact form or call our office and schedule your free, no-obligation consultation as soon as today so we can start investigating.

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