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Florida Child Car Accidents: A Parent’s Guide to Liability & Compensation

t-bone car accident

Florida’s roads see their share of car accidents, and when children are involved, the situations get even more complex. Parents naturally worry about their children’s safety, but what happens if you find out your teenager took the car without permission and caused an accident? Are you, as the parent, liable for the damages? Now flip the scenario. Your child is a passenger in another car that gets hit. What legal options do they have to seek compensation for injuries?

We will discuss these tough questions and introduce you to the legal complexities of car accidents involving children in Florida, from parental liability to a child’s right to compensation. For a free confidential consultation, contact our Miami car accident lawyers

Parental Liability and Minor Drivers in Florida

So, your teenager took the car without permission and caused an accident. Are you, as the parent, responsible for the damage? In Florida, the answer is likely yes.

Florida law operates under the principle of parental responsibility for car accidents involving minors. This means that, unlike most situations where a child’s negligence wouldn’t fall on the parent, car accidents are an exception. Here’s why:

  • Authority Through Ownership: In most cases, a minor child wouldn’t be the registered owner of the car they’re driving. It’s typically the parents or guardians who own and register the vehicle, granting them implicit permission to use it. This establishes a layer of authority.
  • Signature: For a minor to obtain a driver’s permit or license in Florida, a parent or guardian must sign the application. This signature essentially acts as a legal agreement, holding the signer partially accountable for the child’s actions on the road.

Therefore, if your child causes a car accident while driving a car registered to you or another parent/guardian, you will likely be held liable for the damages. This applies to both situations:

  • Unauthorized Use: Even if your child took the car without permission and caused an accident, you could still be held responsible because you’re the legal owner who signed off on their driving privileges.

You as a parent could be held responsible for repairs, medical bills, and other damages to the other driver and their vehicle. Insurance will likely cover these costs if children are listed as covered parties on auto insurance liability policies. 

When the Child is the Victim: Protecting Your Child’s Rights After a Car Accident

Car accidents are a frightening ordeal for anyone involved, but for children, the experience can be especially traumatizing. Their developing bodies are more susceptible to serious injuries, and the impact of a crash can linger for years to come. Physical injuries may take a long time to heal, and mental and emotional trauma can manifest in ways that are difficult to address. Common injuries in child car accident victims include: 

  • Psychological Trauma: The trauma of a car accident can lead to ongoing psychological conditions in children, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or depression. These conditions can manifest in various ways, including difficulty sleeping, nightmares, changes in mood or behavior, and social withdrawal. These challenges may require ongoing counseling or other treatments.
  • Head or Brain Injuries: Head or brain injuries are one of the most common injuries sustained by children in car accidents, especially in children under one. These injuries can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Even seemingly minor head injuries can have serious, long-lasting impacts on a child’s cognitive development, memory, concentration, and ability to participate in school and other activities.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: While spinal cord injuries are less common in children compared to adults, they can be devastating. Especially in babies and toddlers, the neck area is highly flexible, making them more susceptible to spinal cord injuries as a result of a car accident. These injuries can cause permanent paralysis, loss of mobility, and require lifelong medical care.

Can Child Get Compensation After a Car Accident in Florida?

In these difficult situations, it’s crucial to understand your child’s rights and how to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. Minors have the right to seek compensation for their injuries just like any other accident victim. 

The potential compensation awarded to a child victim is no different from that of an adult. Depending on the severity of the injuries, your child can seek damages for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages

Unlike adults, minor children cannot file a personal injury claim themselves in Florida. This is where parental responsibility takes on a different role. As the parent or legal guardian, you have the legal authority to file a claim on your child’s behalf.

While you file the claim initially, there’s a technicality. Technically, a minor child has the right to wait until they reach the age of majority (18 in Florida) to file their own claim. However, there’s a crucial catch: Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the injury. This means even if your child waits until they turn 18, they only have two years from the accident date to file their claim.

While the compensation process for child victims mirrors that of adults, the legal responsibility falls on the parent or guardian to initiate the claim. The two-year statute of limitations emphasizes the importance of acting swiftly to protect your child’s right to seek compensation for their injuries.

Contact a Miami Auto Accident Lawyer

Car accidents are frightening for everyone involved, but especially for children. The legal issues surrounding these accidents can be complex, leaving you with questions about liability and compensation. Whether your child was hurt as a passenger or caused an accident while driving, Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP can help. 
Our experienced Miami car accident attorneys can guide you through every step of the process, fight for the compensation your child deserves, and ensure your rights are protected. Call us at 305-371-2692 or schedule a free consultation with Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP today.