Who is liable when a drunk teenager causes a crash?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2022 | Personal Injury & Wrongful Death - Accidents Caused By Drunk Driver |

The teenage years are notorious for being a time when people make questionable personal decisions. Many teenagers learn by making terrible mistakes rather than by listening to the adults in their life who try to warn them about the consequences of their actions.

Even young adults who have gone through driver’s education courses and who have responsible parents might still think that they can get away with drunk driving. Sadly, impaired drivers often cause harm to other people. A teenager who already lacks the driving experience necessary to be truly safe at the wheel could become even more dangerous to the public if they drive with reduced capability because of alcohol consumption.

Those hurt in traffic crashes often depend on the insurance of the at-fault driver. Coverage for teen drivers is often prohibitively expensive, so the young adult who caused the crash may not have much insurance coverage to begin with. When you combine that with the kinds of catastrophic injuries possible in a drunk-driving crash, insurance may not be enough to pay for your losses. Who compensates you then?

Someone serving alcohol could have liability

Colorado has both dram shop laws and social host liability laws. If a business sells alcohol to someone under the age of 21 and then they cause a drunk driving crash, the victims of that wreck could potentially bring a claim against that business’s insurance policy or take them to civil court.

If the teenager consumed alcohol at a party, then the social host liability law applies. Typically, people providing drinks to other adults don’t have any liability for having a party or providing alcoholic beverages. However, when someone provides alcohol to underage partygoers, they have liability if those miners go out and cause a crash.

Sometimes parents have liability, too

Colorado has a family car rule that may apply depending on the circumstances. If a teenager still lives at home and their parents are the owner of the vehicle that caused the crash, then the parents may share some liability.

That may mean you could bring a civil claim against them to recover losses not covered by insurance. However, if the teenager lives on their own or bought the vehicle themselves, they may be the only person liable for the crash. Learning more about the rules that apply to drunk driving personal injury claims in Colorado can help your family pursue justice after a wreck.