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Am I liable for my college student’s car accident in Arizona? College Student Series Part 1

There’s a range of parenting styles when it comes to adult college kids. Some parents worry constantly about whether their student eats well, studies, and adjusts to the different workload while others adopt a more out of sight, out of mind parenting style. The truth is most fall somewhere in between, but all parents have probably received the dreaded phone call while their student was away: “I got in a car crash and don’t know what to do! Should I call the cops? I don’t know if it’s my fault! What should I do?”


Usually, it’s a fender bender and everyone walks away just fine after exchanging insurance information. But, what happens if the accident is more serious? What if your college student is no longer on your insurance? What if there are severe damages? What if your child was driving recklessly? The conversation then shifts to… “Am I liable for my college student’s car accident?”


The good news for parents is that you’re typically not liable for damages caused by your college student’s car accident in Arizona. That is one of the benefits of your kids getting older and going off to college! That being said, there are situations where you can be personally responsible, but it depends on the specific facts of your case.


To help narrow down the answer, you can ask yourself these questions:


  • Is your college student a minor?

You might not remember, but you (or your child’s other guardian) actually signed an application when getting a driver’s license. In Arizona, this signature means that you assume responsibility for damages caused by your minor child’s driving. This is something parents don’t really think about because the teen driver is usually under their policy. But, if you removed your child from your insurance policy before leaving for college and they are still a minor, you could be responsible for the damages caused by their car accident.


  • Was the car in your name and did you give permission for them to drive it?

If the car is in your name and you knew your child was not in the mental or physical state to drive, but you let them drive your car anyway, you may be liable through the legal principle of negligent entrustment. These types of cases are very fact-specific but can open liability to you as the owner of the vehicle.


  • Is your college student under your car insurance policy?

While this alone is unlikely to make you personally liable for the damages from your kid’s car accident, their accident could affect your insurance rates, causing you financial stress that otherwise wouldn’t have occurred (we go more into depth about this topic in part 2 of this college student series ).


So, to answer the question of, “Am I liable for my college student’s car accident in Arizona?” The answer is… it depends (everyone’s favorite legal answer… right?). In a normal situation with minimal damages and 2 insured drivers, you are unlikely to be liable for your college student’s accident. That being said, it never hurts to have a free case review.


If you are unsure about your liability for your college student’s car accident, contact the team at Leon Law, PLLC for a free case review and consultation to learn more about your legal options. Call (602) 780-1302 or email


DISCLAIMER: The Leon Law, PLLC blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources.

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