In our last entry, BLF discussed the trends in San Antonio and greater Texas personal injury cases involving parental liability for the negligent acts of their children. We covered parental liability for the use of dangerous instruments especially where the parent(s) know their children are using dangerous instruments and may have violent tendencies. The common dangerous instruments are ATVs and guns, including non-lethal paintball guns.
In this entry, we discuss claims involving a minor’s use of an automobile (including motorcycles) which harms another. The common tort for a parent’s civil liability is known as a claim for negligent parental entrustment of a motor vehicle. The basis for such a claim is two-fold. First, the parent must have exercised some control over the vehicle. Second, the parent must know of a child’s tendency to drive recklessly.
The fact that a parent owns a vehicle under many Texas Supreme and state court decisions is not enough to qualify under the claim of negligent parental entrustment. In fact, many courts throughout the nation have stated that a parent may have to be physically present while the child was operating the vehicle in order to hold the parent liable for negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle. You should consult with a personal injury for the latest requirements on a negligent entrustment claim.
In addition, with respect to a parent’s knowledge of a child’s propensity to drive recklessly, some courts have ruled that a parent’s knowledge of prior traffic accidents may not qualify as knowledge. Courts have ruled that the existence of prior motor vehicle accidents involving teenagers does not necessarily reflect knowledge by the parents of a tendency to drive recklessly. Because claims are very fact specific, and the law is always changing, consult with a greater San Antonio Texas personal injury attorney. Reckless teen driving is always a potential negligent entrustment claim.
Parents should also be aware they can be held liable for alcohol consumption by a minor child which causes injury to others. The Texas courts are very specific that parents can be held civilly liable where they furnish alcohol to the minor. Texas laws for furnishing alcohol to minors under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) permits liability where a party is injured by an intoxicated person under age 21 and the parent furnished alcohol to the minor. Parents should be ultra vigilant where they encourage alcohol consumption by minors in San Antonio and greater Texas.
Generally, parents will not often be assessed civil liability for the negligent acts of their children. However, in situation where parents did not properly supervise their children’s use of dangerous instruments such as ATVs and guns, including paint ball guns, there is potential liability. In addition, liability for a minor’s use of a motor vehicle or consumption of alcohol can still attach to the parents. Key questions include the parent(s)’ knowledge of violent propensities by the child in the case of dangerous instruments. Check with your greater San Antonio Texas personal injury attorney for your options if you have been personally injured by a minor.