Can Parents Be Held Liable for Crash Damages Caused by Their Teenage Driver?

father handing car keys to daughterWhen parents hand the car keys to their kids, they are not necessarily handing over responsibility for damages if their teenagers cause a crash. Parents could bear liability for these crashes, depending on certain factors, such as whether the parents own the car. (Many teenagers drive cars owned by their parents.)

If you were injured in a collision with a teenage driver, TSR Injury Law is ready to help you seek compensation. We can determine if the driver’s parents may be liable for damages and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf. There are no upfront fees to hire our firm and no fees while we work to pursue the compensation you need.

Need legal help after a crash? Call TSR today: (612) TSR-TIME.

Liability for Teenage Driver Crashes

In Minnesota, liability coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage follow the car, not the driver. If the car the teenager was driving is owned by the teenager’s parents, the parents may be liable for damages caused in the crash. That means you, as the victim of the crash, may be able to file a claim against the parents’ liability insurance.

Even if the child is 18 years old, parents may have liability if they still own the car.

When parents do not own the at fault car, they are usually not held liable for damages caused by their teenage driver. Parents cannot insure a car unless they are listed as the owners.

Parents can also be held liable if they own the car and their teen driver allows someone else to drive it. Minnesota follows the “initial permission” rule. If permission is granted to drive a car, even if the permission is abused (for example it is ok to drive the car to the store but nowhere else and the driver takes off to Wisconsin and causes a crash) the owner of the car is liable for all damages caused.

What if the Teenager Did Not Have Permission to Drive the Car?

Sometimes teenagers decide to drive their parents’ car without permission. However, the term permission is not always clear. For example, if the parents allowed their child access to the car, but one day did not grant permission yet left the keys to the car in a place where the teenager could easily get a hold of them, that’s permission. The parents could be held liable for damages if their teenager causes a crash.

If a teenager has a drug or alcohol problem or mental health issues, the parents should take reasonable steps to try to prevent this person from getting behind the wheel of a car they own. Parents may be held liable if they make no attempt to prevent their teenager from driving, and he or she crashes their car. This may include locking up the keys or keeping the keys with them.

Insurance companies often deny coverages when children take the parent’s car without explicit permission. Litigation with discovery often unearths the truth and coverage can be established.

Crash victims should strongly consider hiring an attorney to help them pursue compensation. The experienced Bloomington car accident lawyers at TSR Injury Law know how to dispute arguments the at-fault party and their insurance company may make.

Negligent Entrustment

Sometimes a teenager is known to be an unusually dangerous driver. For example, the teenager may have a suspended license because he or she has been in numerous crashes or received numerous traffic tickets. The teenager may also have other issues, such as the substance abuse problems mentioned in the previous section.

If parents allow a teenager with this kind of record to drive their car and the teenager causes a crash, it could be considered negligent entrustment.

What if the Teenager was Engaged in Criminal Negligence?

You may have heard that car insurance companies may void coverage if their policyholder was engaged in criminal behavior. This raises the following question: Could a teenager’s parents not bear liability because their teenager was committing a crime?

This is a complex question that should be discussed with an experienced attorney. You should not take the insurance company’s word for it that the insurance policy has been voided.

The insurance company may say that the teenager driving drunk or on drugs voids the insurance policy. However, insurance should still apply because the insurance company would have a hard time arguing the teenager intentionally caused the crash.

Contact TSR Injury Law After a Car Crash

You do not need to try to seek compensation on your own. You do not need the stress of trying to manage the legal process and dealing with the insurance company.

TSR Injury Law’s trusted attorneys have been working with car crash victims for decades, securing compensation for victims of a wide range of collisions. We know how to investigate crashes, gather evidence, evaluate your damages, and aggressively negotiate with insurance companies. We are also prepared to take cases to court and have done so successfully many times.

No upfront fees or legal obligations. Contact us to learn more: (612) TSR-TIME.

Vehicle Infotainment Systems and Other In-Car Technology May Increase Distracted Driving

finger on touchscreen in vehicleEver wonder if all the touchscreens and interactive features in newer cars is contributing to distracted driving?

Research from the late 1980s indicates that the poor performance of Apache helicopter pilots was the result of too many screens and devices demanding their attention. These pilots had to undergo considerable training prior to operating these high-tech aircraft. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume the numerous touch screens, interactive maps and other features in modern cars may be overwhelming for many drivers.

It is also important to note that research on Apache helicopter pilots led to a redesign of cockpits to help pilots stay focused.

According to David Strayer, one of the cognitive psychologists who was involved in the Apache research, cars are being loaded with instruments that are “overloading the driver just like we were overloading the helicopter pilots.”

The same discoveries about pilots being overloaded can be applied to drivers of heavily equipped motor vehicles, according to Strayer.

Unfortunately, auto manufacturers and smartphone designers have ignored this research and continue to add even more features. This constant influx of new technology may encourage distracted driving.

“They’ve created a candy store of distraction,” said Strayer.

It is worth noting that some of the innovative new features include blind-spot detection and lane-departure warnings. However, even with these new safety systems, we continue to see a rise in highway deaths.

While there are many reasons for crash fatalities, one of the biggest culprits is distracted driving. In fact, a Nationwide Insurance poll shows agents believe half of all crashes are caused by distracted driving.

The problem may be worse because people often do not report distracted driving. In many states, using a smartphone while driving carries penalties, particularly when distracted driving results in a crash. Those who readily admit to distracted driving could be held financially liable for damages following a crash.

People continue to engage in distracted driving, despite the statistics showing the dangers and consequences. A State Farm survey from earlier this year found more than half of the drivers interviewed often or always text and drive. The survey also found 43 percent of these drivers watched videos on their cellphones or even did video chats.

Auto manufacturers and smartphone makers tend to think about the problem of distracted driving as a problem related to cellphones. That is why they try to integrate the functionality of cellphones into vehicle dashboards and allow for voice recognition.

However, this technology does not seem to eliminate the problem. In fact, it may be making things worse. Even changing music or adjusting the air conditioning via voice commands can be just as dangerous as using a smartphone behind the wheel.

Strayer and his team found that voice commands can significantly increase a driver’s cognitive load. Studies show that distracted driving is not just about your eyes drifting away from the road. If your mind is not on the task at hand, such as driving, it can be just as dangerous. You cannot ask your brain to do too many things at once.

Another factor to consider is that all the distractions being built into vehicles may make drivers believe distracted driving is OK.

“People think, ‘It came with the car, it must be safe,’” said the father of a daughter who was killed in a distracted driving crash in 2016.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Call TSR Today

Our firm has secured millions on behalf of crash victims in Minnesota, and we are ready to discuss your situation in a free consultation. Our Bloomington-based vehicle accident lawyers take cases on contingency, which means no upfront fees or legal obligations.

Contact TSR today to learn more: (612) TSR-TIME.

How the Extent of Vehicle Damage May Impact a Car Crash Claim

man with laptop by damaged carThere are various things that can affect the value of a car crash claim. They include the type and severity of the injuries suffered, how you respond to treatment, wage loss from injuries, the insurance policy limits, and more.

One of the important factors they look at is the extent of damage to the vehicles involved in the collision. Rightly or wrongly, they assume it is unlikely for people to suffer significant injuries if the vehicle they were in sustained little damage. They are more likely to agree a victim suffered a severe injury if his or her vehicle was totaled or sustained extensive damage.

If the victim’s vehicle was totaled or severely damaged, it can be easier for the victim’s attorney to prove the victim suffered serious injuries. This may also improve your chances of recovering full compensation for your damages.

Below, we discuss how the extent of vehicle damage may impact a Minnesota car crash claim. If you have questions about taking legal action after a car accident, we are prepared to help. There are no upfront fees when you hire our services.

Schedule your free legal consultation. TSR is here to help: (612) TSR-TIME.

Vehicle Damage Can Help Indicate Fault for a Crash

The location of damage helps to show how the crash occurred. Attorneys and insurance companies can work backward from the damage location and severity to determine how fast vehicles were traveling and their position before the collision. The location of the damage may also help indicate who had the right of way.

For example, if the passenger side of your vehicle was damaged and the crash happened in an intersection, the other driver was likely turning left. In a crash like this, one of the drivers probably did not have the right of way.

If the front quarter of the at-fault driver’s vehicle was damaged and that driver was attempting to make a right turn, it may indicate the driver who was turning is at fault. This driver may have had a red light and it was not safe to make the turn.

On the other hand, the approaching driver may have had a red light while the turning driver had a green light. In this situation, the approaching driver may be at fault for running a red light.

These are just a few of the many examples of how vehicle damage can tell you things about how and why a crash happened and who may be at fault.

Vehicle Damage Helps Support the Value of Your Damages

There are many ways vehicle damage could help support the value of a claim for damages. For example, the faster cars are traveling when they collide, the more severe the damage is likely to be. The more severe the damage, the more serious the injuries are likely to be.

Severe damage often indicates who had the right of way. Severe crashes often happen when one driver violates another driver’s right of way, such as by running a red light. The driver who has the right of way often does not have much time to slow down or move out of the way. The result is likely a collision that causes a lot of damage.

Distracted driving crashes often cause severe damage because the at-fault driver may not slow down at all before the collision. He or she may not look up from his or her phone until a second or split second before impact.

Your attorney can consult vehicle crash test reports to show the type of impact that would be necessary to cause the damage your vehicle suffered. This can be strong evidence about the cause of the crash and who may be at fault. Crash test data may also indicate the types of injuries that would be likely to occur in different types of crashes.

Insurance Company Biases Related to Vehicle Damage

Insurance companies have a variety of biases that they apply to claims. For example, they often do not consider soft-tissue injuries to be that serious.

They also do not think serious injuries can result from crashes that cause relatively minor damage. The damage from a rear-end crash may not be severe – the bumper may need to be replaced and there might not be significant damage to the vehicle frame. That said, the driver may have suffered whiplash that affects him or her for months afterward and requires regular treatment.

The value of this claim could be considerable, and the insurance company may try to lowball you. They may tell you that your vehicle was not seriously damaged so you should not need the amount of compensation you are claiming.

It is important to note insurance companies are always looking for an excuse to deny or devalue a claim. Even if your crash resulted in significant vehicle damage, the insurance company may try to lowball you.

Call TSR Injury Law Today for Legal Assistance

Our firm has been recovering millions in compensation for our clients for decades. We are deeply committed to your best interests.

At TSR Injury Law, you are not a number. Our Bloomington car accident attorneys understand this is a difficult time for you, and we are here to help. We are available to answer your questions throughout the legal process.

Give us a call to learn more about our services: (612) TSR-TIME.

What Happens When Your Personal Injury Case Goes to Court?

judge hold gavel in darkened courtroomThere is a common misconception that if you hire a lawyer after suffering a personal injury you will need to go to court to recover compensation. Typically, cases are resolved without needing to go to court, as the victim’s attorney can reach a settlement with the liable insurance company.

That said, there are times when cases make it to court. These are typically cases that have significant value (where insurance companies are trying to deny or underpay the claim) or when there is a true fight over fault, such as cases involving drivers who ran a light.

The thought of going to court often creates a lot of anxiety for injury clients. That is why attorneys like to explain the process to injury clients, so they know what to expect. Telling people what they need to know helps give them some peace of mind.

Below, our Minneapolis personal injury attorneys discuss the steps involved in a personal injury court case. If you were injured by another’s negligence, TSR Injury Law is ready to help you seek compensation. While some law firms are always looking to settle, we are always prepared to take cases to court if it becomes necessary. Our goal is to secure full compensation, so you can move forward with your life.

Why Do Some Injury Cases End Up in Court?

The only reason cases make it to court is because both sides cannot reach a settlement agreement. The insurance company may be unwilling to increase its offer or may have chosen to deny liability on the claim.

There are various reasons why insurance companies may be unwilling to offer more compensation. Insurance companies may think:

  • You do not have a strong case
  • Your credibility is in question
  • A jury is unlikely to award more compensation than the insurance company is offering
  • They can win in court, even though the victim has a strong case
  • The attorney you hired does not try cases in court and will fold

If negotiations break down, our attorneys may recommend filing a lawsuit. However, there are many factors that need to be considered before going ahead with a lawsuit. Our attorneys make sure to keep our clients informed throughout the process and explain what the next steps may be.

What are the Steps Involved in a Court Case?

The first step in a lawsuit is filing a complaint. Once the complaint is filed, the other party has a chance to respond.


After the defendant responds to the complaint, the case enters the discovery phase. This may be the longest stage of any court case. Both parties collect evidence to help support their case, and they may share information they have collected. This allows both sides to get a better idea about the strengths and weaknesses of their case and the case the other side is putting together.

Some of the steps that may be taken during discovery include:

  • Asking for written answers to interrogatories (a list of questions)
  • Taking depositions of witnesses
  • Requesting that the other party produce documents
  • Undergoing medical exams with doctors who were hired by the insurance company


A jury trial is the last resort for resolving a legal claim. That is why there are multiple settlement steps before a trial ever takes place. This includes mediation, which occurs when both parties in the case meet with a mediator. The mediator tries to help both sides come to an agreement on a settlement that would close the case.

Sometimes mediation is successful. The insurance company may get cold feet and not want to risk going to a trial. The longer a case goes on, the more expensive it becomes, and a jury may award much more compensation than the insurance company would need to pay in a settlement.

Our attorneys are experienced negotiators who are committed to securing fair compensation for your damages. We have worked with mediators before and been able to secure favorable settlements for our clients.


If both sides cannot reach an agreement through mediation, the case will move to a trial. There are several steps in a trial:

  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements from both sides
  • Presentation of evidence and calling of witnesses
  • Closing statements
  • Jury deliberations

It is important to note there is nothing preventing either side from proposing a settlement at any point of the trial. If both sides can reach an agreement, the trial stops and the case is resolved.

The insurance company may be more likely to reach out and offer compensation if they think the evidence is overwhelmingly against them.

Our attorneys are here to answer your questions about a trial and explain what to expect from each step in the process.

Jury Decision

After the jury deliberates, they will announce their decision. If your case was successful, the jury will decide to award compensation for damages. It is important to note the jury’s verdict must be unanimous.

When a case makes it to court, the resolution may not come for multiple years from the date of the accident. While there is a possibility the jury will award more compensation than you might get in a settlement, there is also a possibility the jury will award less or none at all.

However, our attorneys are not going to recommend going to court unless we think there is a good chance of success.

Contact TSR Injury Law to Discuss Your Claim

We understand this is a difficult time for you and your family and we are here to help. An initial consultation is free of charge and comes with no obligation to hire our firm.

We are prepared to guide you through the legal process. That means we can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, investigate the accident, gather evidence and prepare to go to court.

Free consultation. No upfront fees. Call us at: (612) TSR-TIME.