Are You Responsible For Your Minor If You Signed For Their Driver's License?

Have you ever been asked to sign for a minor so they can get their driver’s license? What does this mean to you?  In Kentucky, in order for a minor to obtain a driver’s license, the application has to be signed by the minor’s parent or legal guardian. KRS 186.470 requires a signature from a parent or legal guardian on a minor’s application for an operator’s license, motorcycle operator’s license, intermediate license or an instruction permit. The statute states that if the minor does not have a father, mother or guardian, the minor must have someone sign the application that is willing to assume the obligation imposed by KRS 186.590.

Related: Teens Remain Greatest Risk of Auto Accidents
 
What is the obligation?
What is this obligation? KRS 186.590 states that:

“Any negligence of a minor under the age of eighteen (18) who has been licensed upon an application as provided by KRS 186.470, when driving any motor vehicle upon a highway, shall be imputed to the person who signed the application of the minor for the license. That person shall be jointly and severally liable with the minor for any damages caused by the negligence.”
 
In other words, in Kentucky, the individual who signed the minor’s license application is responsible for the negligence that the minor causes while operating the car, moped or motorcycle. This means that if the minor causes an accident, you better have insurance that will cover them because an injured victim can come after you. In addition, the statute also imposes liability on a motor vehicle owner who causes or knowingly permits a minor to drive a vehicle. This also applies to anyone who gives or furnishes a motor vehicle to the minor. Therefore, in Kentucky, even if the minor is insured, the individual who signed the application can still be responsible for the minor’s negligence.

Related: What To Consider When Choosing A Car For Your Kentucky Teen
 
What happens if my child was emancipated?
Interestingly enough, even if your child is emancipated, you can still be held financially liable for your child’s negligence that occurred while driving. In Kentucky, emancipation does not change the child’s legal status as a minor. If you give or loan a vehicle and allow the minor to drive, you can still be responsible. If you are going to sign an application for a minor to obtain their driver’s license in Kentucky, or if you are going to give a minor a vehicle, you need to be aware that you can be held responsible. If the minor is insured, you can still be held liable for the amount that exceeds the scope of the insurance policy.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky