If another person is responsible for an accident while driving your vehicle, it is understandable for you to wonder if you face civil liability. Most of the time, though, the at-fault driver will be responsible for any damages that occur. However, circumstances could lead you to face liability.
Car accidents can be complicated enough under the best of circumstances. Dealing with a damaged car caused by someone other than yourself only increases the complexity after an accident. Unsure who is responsible if someone gets in an accident when driving your car? Your attorney could provide you with the answers.
When the Owner Could Face Liability
Whether or not the vehicle owner faces some liability will depend on who was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. Under the law, the vehicle owner could be responsible for the negligence of some drivers but not others. As a default, the negligent driver will bear responsibility for any accident they cause. However, special circumstances could result in you facing liability as well.
One of the circumstances that could lead the vehicle owner to face liability for an accident is when the owner’s minor child causes the collision. A teenager could get in an accident while driving the family car. In this case, the parent that owns the vehicle could be held responsible.
This is true only when the teenager is using the vehicle for a family purpose. This is typically known as the family purpose doctrine.
The Legal Information Institute (LII) states that a family purpose could be anything from running errands to driving to school under this doctrine. These purposes differ from errands that exclusively benefit the teenager. Whether or not a teenager was using the vehicle for a family purpose is often a central issue in personal injury lawsuits.
The vehicle owner could also be on the hook for an accident if they employ the vehicle driver. Thanks to a legal theory known as respondeat superior, an injury victim could sue the negligent driver and their employer. The case has to meet certain circumstances, though. Specifically, the driver must have been within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
The scope of the driver’s employment varies depending on the nature of a person’s job. For example, a professional driver operating a company car is likely to be within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
A person taking a company car home after their work day concludes might not be within the scope of their employment. Your attorney could advise you on whether the driver of your vehicle was within the scope of their employment or not at the time of the crash.
The owner of a vehicle could also be held responsible for the driver’s negligence if the owner should have known better than to entrust their vehicle to that person. Negligent entrustment could involve turning over a vehicle to a driver that is:
- Reckless driver
For a negligent entrustment case to be viable, the owner must have been aware of the risks the driver poses. If a reasonable person would not have been aware that the driver was inherently dangerous, they will not be responsible for the driver’s damage.
Additionally, the vehicle owner must have willfully allowed the driver to operate their vehicle. After all, this theory of liability is based on a car owner willfully entrusting their vehicle to a dangerous person. If the driver takes the car without authorization, the owner will not be liable for any damage that occurs.
For a free legal consultation, call 404-214-2001
If another person wrecks your vehicle, you may be wondering if they have their own insurance policy to rely on. Unfortunately, the driver’s liability policy might not be much good to you following an accident. This is because liability insurance policies are specific to a vehicle. Even if you are not behind the wheel at the time of the crash, your liability policy will be the primary insurance for the accident.
You could benefit from the driver of your vehicle having their own insurance policy, as it could serve as secondary insurance for the accident. Secondary insurance means their policy could pay any of the claims that are above and beyond the limits of your policy.
Talk to Your Attorney Following an Accident
Most of the time, the driver of a vehicle is responsible when they get in an accident. Situations can result in liability for the car owner as well. These circumstances are uncommon. However, it is important to understand them if another person was involved in a crash in your car.
If you were in an accident, you are entitled to have your attorney carefully review your situation. Call (404) 214-2001 for a free consultation with Kaine Law today.