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Teen Drivers and Parental Responsibility

From the moment parents bring home their first babies, they have likely done everything in their power to teach him or her how to be a good person, and how to make smart choices, follow the rules, and be an upstanding citizen. Parents take responsibility for their children’s actions when they’re young, but just how far does that responsibility extend as children grow into teenagers, with licenses and driving privileges?

Parents of teenaged drivers are already worried about the potential for disaster once their children take the wheel. Risks abound from other drivers and hazardous weather conditions, as well as from the teen driver himself, with distractions, alcohol, and drugs. Teen drivers who are negligent or who willfully break the law can cause serious damage to others on the road, and under Illinois’ parental liability law, their parents may be forced to shoulder the financial responsibility.

Understanding Parental Liability

Parental liability refers to the responsibility assessed to the parent whenever a child is charged with causing damage to another person or property. This liability typically begins when the child is at the age of reason (somewhere between 8 to 10 years old), and should know the difference between right and wrong, and lasts until the child is considered a mature adult.

Under the Illinois Parental Responsibility Law (IPRL), found in the 740 ILCS 115 of Illinois Compiled Statutes, the parent or legal guardian can be held legally responsible for any intentional acts of negligence committed by a minor child, if these acts cause injury or damage. Illinois’ law begins responsibility when the child is 11 years old, and extends until the child reaches 19.

Parents and legal guardians are not held liable under this law if the child is legally emancipated in any state court, or if the child does not live with that parent or legal guardian. Liability goes hand in hand with the parent’s control over the child—if the child is emancipated or living elsewhere, the parent or guardian does not have control over his actions.

Drunk Driving, Damages, and Responsibility

The courts can hold a minor’s parents responsible if the minor drinks and drives, and causes an accident, because the minor willingly broke the law, and that is considered negligent. However, the parent can only be required to pay for the actual damages caused by the accident. These damages include medical expenses and damage to the vehicle, but do not extend to compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering.

Economic damages assessed to the parents are capped at $20,000 for the minor’s first offense. If the young driver has a history of repeated malicious or negligent acts, the cap is raised to $30,000.

Know Your Options: Speak to a Chicago Accident Lawyer Today

If you have been injured by a young driver, it may be in your best interest to file a claim using the IPRL. For more information on your case and the options available to you, contact a Chicago accident lawyer at the Jackowiak Law Offices today.