Can My Teenager Be Sued for a DUI- Related Injury?

Can My Teenager Be Sued for a DUI- Related Injury?

Can My Teenager Be Sued for a DUI- Related Injury?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 32 people in the U.S die each day from drunk-driving accidents. This is equivalent to one person every 45 minutes. Drunk driving incidents often involve minors, or persons younger than 18 years old.  Teenagers can be arrested for driving while drunk and they may also be sued for any injuries they caused as a result of driving under the influence (DUI).

Along with criminal charges being brought against a driver who was driving under the influence (DUI) the victims of a DUI may also file a civil lawsuit against them for their injuries seeking compensation for their medical costs, lost earnings and other damages.

If your child has been charged with a DUI which also involved a car accident, it is advisable to contact an experienced DUI law firm such as Mason Ohio Family Law Attorneys, Engel & Martin who may be able to help you with their defense. In this article, we will look at some of the legal requirements related to a  DUI injury claim.

Burden of Proof
Under a civil claim, the legal burden of proof for drunk driving is different than that under a criminal charge. In the latter case, the prosecution has to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the driver was operating a motor vehicle under the influence. This can entail putting forward evidence such as a failed sobriety test, blood alcohol levels and accounts from the arresting officers at the time of the accident.

The standard of proof in a civil case is much lower and the injured party, or plaintiff, must prove their case by a “preponderance of the evidence”. This will require the plaintiff to produce evidence demonstrating that their claim is more likely than not true. For an injured party (plaintiff) to receive compensation in a DUI-related claim they must be able to prove that the driver’s (defendant’s) negligence resulted in the injuries sustained. The following four elements must be established to prove negligence:

Duty of Care
The plaintiff must prove there was a duty of care owed to them by the defendant. In motor-related cases it is assumed that drivers owe other motorists and pedestrians a duty of care by driving safely and responsibly.

Breach of Duty

It must be shown that the defendant breached their duty of care. This can be established by proving they were driving under the influence of alcohol as a reasonable person would know such actions could potentially injure others.


The defendant’s breach of duty must have directly resulted in the injuries sustained by the plaintiff. It must be proved that they would not have been injured but for the defendant’s actions.


The plaintiff must show they suffered quantifiable loss as a result of their injuries for which they can be financially compensated. As a teenager is unlikely to have the money to compensate the plaintiff, some states allow claimant’s to recover damages from the parents. Some insurance policies also cover the injuries caused by the actions of a child.

It is also worth noting that in most states parents can also be held liable for their child’s actions as the law assumes parental responsibility which means parents may be financially responsible for injuries caused by the negligent or intentional acts of their child.

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