Every day, new drivers take to Missoula’s streets looking to increase their skills to the point of joining the ranks of Montana’s responsible motorists. Most (having once been in the same position themselves) understand that new drivers need time to acclimate themselves to the road. Thus, they may be willing to give teen motorists a little leeway. Yet statistics show that teen drivers have been proven to present heightened risks to those on the road around them. Indeed, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while those age 15-19 only account for 7 percent of the population in the U.S., they account for a whopping 11 percent of the country’s car accident injury expenses.
Those injured in accidents with teen drivers might find themselves in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they may want to try to be understanding. On the other, their accident expenses(which can often exceed even that which insurance is willing to cover) may not allow them to do so. However, teens typically have little in the way of resources. Therefore, those needing compensation following accidents that teen drivers cause may be forced to try and make the teens’ parents liable.
Is that possible? According to the legal principle of negligent entrustment, it is. This doctrine states that vehicle owners who entrust their cars, trucks or SUVs to others can be held responsible for any accidents those drivers cause. Montana has its own legislation outlining the state’s stance on negligent entrustment. In Section 27-1-701 of Montana’s Annotated Code, it states that a person is responsible for their own willful acts as well as for injuries that result from his or her own want of care or skill in managing his or her own self or property.