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Are parents liable in accidents involving teen drivers?

Most Connecticut teenagers can't wait to come of the age when they can get their license to drive. That age is 16. It's a big moment. It's also a lot of responsibility to place in the hands of someone who is so young and inexperienced at a task that can have such serious repercussions if something goes wrong.

State lawmakers are not unaware of the risks that are involved when young people get behind the wheel. That's why there are laws on the books that restrict behaviors. Among them is one that states that new young drivers are not supposed to carry any passengers, except a licensed instructor, a licensed person with at least 4 years of safe driving on record or a licensed parent or legal guardian.

To reinforce those measures state statute also opens parents to potential liability if a young driver violates restrictions and then is found to be responsible for an accident that leaves a victim injured or killed.

This may be something that is on the minds of a 16-year-old Killingworth girl and her parents right now. According to authorities, she was driving an SUV that was involved in a head-on collision with some motorcyclists last month. The crash left one motorcyclist dead and two others injured.

While an investigation is apparently still ongoing, state police say the driver of the SUV was in violation of the law related to passengers in that she had two other 16-year-old girls in the vehicle with her at the time of the crash. Some experts in the area of motoring safety say the risk of a crash rises exponentially for teen drivers for every teen passenger being carried.

Connecticut law is considered to have some of toughest laws on the books on teenage driving, but as we've noted -- parents have the potential to be held to account if a young driver gets in an accident that causes property damage or physical injury. Whenever such legal question arise, speaking with an experienced attorney is advisable.

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