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Are parents to blame if their kid steals a car and causes a crash?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2024 | Car Accidents |

Parental liability for an underage child stealing and crashing a car is a complex issue in Texas. Understanding how state criminal law addresses these situations is crucial for parents

Under the law, parents generally bear some legal responsibility for the actions of their minor children. However, whether they can be held liable for damages resulting from their child stealing and crashing a car depends on several factors.

Ownership and access to the vehicle

If the parents owned the vehicle and it was reasonably accessible to the child, Texas criminal law might impose liability. Parents must control and supervise their children’s access to potentially dangerous items, including vehicles.

Foreseeability and negligence 

Courts may consider whether the parents knew or should have reasonably known that their child had a propensity to take the car without permission. If the parents were negligent in preventing access to the vehicle, liability could extend to them.

Contributory negligence 

Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rule. It means that even if the child’s actions were primarily responsible for the car accident, the parents’ negligence in supervising the child could still contribute to liability.

Criminal and civil liability

Beyond civil liability for damages, the parents could also face criminal charges. Factors such as the child’s age, maturity, and any history of prior incidents could influence the outcome. Parents may find it helpful to contact a lawyer to understand their degree of responsibility. 

Parental liability for an underage child stealing and crashing a car can be complex in Texas, involving several considerations. Each case hinges on specific details and the degree of parental negligence.