Cars Driven by Minors

For minors involved in an accident, special rules might apply.

Minors who are passengers, bicyclists, or pedestrians. A child under six years old by law cannot be held negligent. Minors ages 6 to 16 negligence is generally measured by the conduct of a reasonably careful person of the same age, intelligence, maturity, training, and experience. A 17 or 18-year-old will generally be treated as an adult.

Minors who operate automobiles or other engage in other adult activity. Minors who operate a powerful motorized vehicle are held to the same standard of care as adults. For example, Washington courts have held a minor as young 13 who operated a snowmobile to the same standard of care as an adult.

Family car doctrine. Parents are not automatically liable for the actions of their minor children. Parents may be liable for accidents caused by other household members–whether related or unrelated, and whether minors or adults–where parents furnish a vehicle for the customary conveyance of family members, and at the time of the accident the car was being used by an authorized family member with express or implied consent.

If you have questions about injury caused by a minor consult with an attorney.

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