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Are South Dakota parents liable when teens cause a crash?

On Behalf of | Sep 10, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

Whether you’ve got a new teen driver in your home or you simply share the road with teen motorists, it’s worth knowing about a couple of disturbing teen driving statistics associated with road safety in South Dakota.

Teen drivers have a greater chance of being injured or killed in a car crash than drivers in older age groups no matter what state they live in. South Dakota, however, is one of the most dangerous states for teen drivers. Of course, crashes that injure or kill teens often involve passengers and other drivers of all ages.

Some troubling numbers

According to one survey, South Dakota has the second highest vehicle fatality rate among teens in the country. (Our neighbors to the west in Wyoming come in first.) Specifically, South Dakota has a fatality rate of 36.8 per 100,000 teens.

When looking at underage DUI rates, South Dakota experiences 130 DUI arrests for every 100,000 teens. While drinking and then driving can be highly dangerous for anyone of any age, it’s especially dangerous for teen drivers who have had relatively little experience behind the wheel and whose brains are still developing.

Who is responsible when a teen causes a crash?

Statistics are enlightening. However, the only case that really matters is yours if you or a loved one is injured or worse in a crash caused by a teen driver. Typically, teen drivers are covered on their parents’ car insurance policies. However, that insurance may not be enough to cover an injury victim’s medical bills and other expenses after a crash for which a teen is responsible.

South Dakota law states that parents have liability for “personal injury, through any malicious and willful act of a minor child under the age of eighteen years while residing with the child’s parents.” The dollar limit on damages that can be recovered ($2,500 plus court costs), “does not apply to damages proximately caused through the operation of a motor vehicle by the minor child.”

Laws concerning parental liability for injuries and damages caused by teens vary somewhat among states. That’s why it’s important to understand state laws and the options available to you if you suffer injuries caused by someone else – regardless of that person’s age. Seeking experienced legal guidance after a serious car crash can help you better understand your rights and options accordingly.