In most cases, a parent is not liable for injuries caused by their minor or adult child. The Family Purpose Doctrine, however, is an exception used in car accident cases where the child was at fault. If the child is found negligent, the parent’s insurance company could be required to pay compensation to the victim of the accident, even if the parents were not in the vehicle at the time. In order for this to apply, the case needs to meet four basic elements. Working with a lawyer enables the child or their parents to find out if this could apply in a particular situation. 

Impact on Insurance Claims

This doctrine typically comes into play when there’s a question of who’s insurance company should pay out on an accident claim. If the driver of the vehicle is not the owner and does not have insurance or is not on the same policy as the vehicle owner, the vehicle owner’s insurance will be the one to pay out for the claim if this doctrine applies. This doctrine only applies if the owner is the parent of the driver and all other elements of the Family Purpose Doctrine are met. Parents can learn more by visiting now. 

Age and Residency Limits

In order for the doctrine to apply, the driver has to be the child of the vehicle’s owner. The age of maturity in Georgia is 18, but the doctrine does apply no matter how old the child is, so the child could be over 18 and the parents could still be held liable for an accident they cause. However, this only applies if the child lives in the same household as the parent. If they rent or own a home and they do not live with their parent, the doctrine does not apply. 

Who Owns the Vehicle

If the child owns the vehicle, they are responsible for any accidents that occur and the parents will not be involved in any lawsuit or attempt at obtaining compensation for injuries sustained in the accident. The doctrine applies if the parent owns the vehicle instead of the child or if the ownership is split between the parent and child. 

Who Can Drive the Vehicle

The doctrine does apply if the owner of the vehicle has made it so any member of the family can drive it. Drivers must have a current and valid driver’s license and be able to drive the vehicle. If the vehicle is only intended for personal use and not for other family members to drive, the doctrine may not apply. 

Who Has Permission to Drive

The driver of the vehicle must have permission to drive the vehicle. If the owner of the vehicle does not give them permission, the doctrine may not apply. Permission can be given explicitly or be implied, as long as the owner knows the driver is taking the vehicle and does not have any issues with this. 

It can be difficult to tell when the Family Purpose Doctrine applies in car accident cases, so it’s always a good idea to speak with a lawyer. The lawyer can provide more information on why it does or doesn’t apply, who may be liable for any compensation that needs to be paid, and what the outcome might be if there is a lawsuit for compensation.