When a Kid Hits Me With the Car in Georgia, Can I Sue the Parents?

The Georgia Family Purpose Doctrine
When a parent gives their child for their use he is legally responsible if they crash and hurt someone. OCGA § 51-2-2. The family purpose doctrine in Georgia provides that “[e]very person shall be liable for torts committed by … his child … by his command or in the prosecution and within the scope of his business, whether the same are committed by negligence or voluntarily.” Clifton v. Zemurray, 223 Ga.App. 756 (1996)

Under the Family Purpose Doctrine, when the family provides a car for the use and convenience of his family, the owner is legally responsible for the negligence of the family member who crashes.

To impose vicarious liability under the family purpose doctrine requires a two step process. First, the following four preconditions must be found present:

(1) the car’s owner gave permission for the family member to drive;
(2) the owner gave control of the vehicle to the driver;
(3) the member was in the vehicle; and
(4) when it crashed, the car was on a mission for the family contemplated by the owner, like going to the movies, going for groceries, etc.

Danforth v. Bulman, 276 Ga.App. 531, 532(1), 623 S.E.2d 732 (2005).