For all of us who have teenage drivers in the house, I just read a great post by NY Insurance coverage expert Roy Mura entitled: Suing the Kid for Crashing the Car Into the Garage. I strongly urge you to read Roy’s full post but the highlights are below:

Roy was asked: Can an unemancipated child be held “legally responsible” to a parent for crashing mom’s car into the garage?

He answered: In New York, the answer is yes. In 1969, in the case of Gelbman v. Gelbman, the New York Court of Appeals abolished the intrafamily immunity doctrine and permitted a mother to sue her unemancipated minor son for injuries she had sustained in an auto accident while riding as a passenger in a car her son was driving. Gelbman remains “good law” in New York.

But then Roy went on to ask the really relevant and practical question: Is there insurance coverage for the kid crashing the car into the garage?

Roy answered by saying that there probably is coverage for damage to the garage (but not its contents) under a homeowner’s policy and “there would also be liability coverage favoring the child under a personal auto policy that provides coverage for “damages for … ‘property damage’ for which any ‘insured’ becomes legally responsible because of an auto accident.”

Roy’s parting tongue-in-cheek comment is that while you might be able to successfully sue your kid for wrecking your car and your garage, and even though there might be insurance coverage to cover it, you might face non-renewal of your insurance coverage when your policy is up for renewal. That certainly is food for thought… 🙂

Thanks for reading, Jim

James B. Reed, Esq.
Personal Injury & Malpractice Attorney
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14901
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