When a minor has an accident, their parents may be held liable through the family purpose doctrine.
The Family Purpose Doctrine and Liability in Nevada Auto Accidents
When a minor or even an adult child who is driving a vehicle that belongs to their parents causes an automobile accident, both the child and their parents may be named as defendants in the personal injury lawsuit. Nevada follows the family purpose doctrine and has codified it into law. According to Nevada Revised Statute 41.440, when a person who is driving a vehicle that belongs to an immediate family member causes a car accident, liability can extend to include the car’s owner. Thus, if a minor is driving a car and has low liability limits on their policy, the plaintiff may also name the minor’s parents to include coverage from their policies as well.
The Reasoning Behind the Family Purpose Doctrine
The family purpose doctrine and statute was enacted due to the problem of there being so many drivers on the road who were essentially judgment-proof, meaning that injured victims could not collect enough damages from them to make them whole. By extending potential liability to family members who loaned the vehicle, the law thus allows a greater likelihood that injured victims will be able to recover enough damages, even if they are beyond the policy limits of the negligent driver’s insurance coverage.
Determining Whether the Family Purpose Doctrine Will Apply
When you have been seriously injured in an accident in which the driver was underinsured, you will need to determine whether the family purpose doctrine might apply. If the driver does not own the car, you can see if the registered owner is one of their immediate family members. If the driver is married, their spouse may also be liable.
How Your Attorney Will Determine All Potential Defendants
Your auto accident lawyer in Henderson will investigate the vehicle’s ownership to determine who to name as defendants. This can help you by making certain you can be made whole again by identifying the various insurance policies available for damages.