The drivers involved in many car accidents own those vehicles and insurance issues in such cases are usually straightforward. But what happens if the at-fault motorist is not the owner of the car they’re driving?
Let’s put it a little differently, what happens to borrow your car and unfortunately they’re involved in an accident. Of course, the first thing is to contact an Alaska personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will review your case and advise you accordingly. But can you be liable for another person’s driving?
When Can You be Liable for Someone Else’s Driving?
Sometimes you can be held liable for another person’s driving. This happens in the following ways:
- When an Employee is driving their Employer’s Car
The law considers employers guilty of wrongful and unintentional acts of negligent driving committed by their employees who were acting on behalf of their employers at the time of an accident. For instance, if an employee runs a red light and causes an accident while driving the company’s car during working hours, you will hold responsible for such an accident.
- If a Friend Borrows Your Vehicle and Causes an Accident
There’s nothing wrong with loaning your car to a friend. As long as your friend has your express permission to use the vehicle, they are covered by your insurance company in the event of an accident. You’ll not have to pay from your pocket if your friend causes an accident while driving your car. However, complications of the applicable insurance policy may arise if the car-borrower has auto insurance coverage.
People who regularly borrow your car should be named on your policy to avoid disputes with your insurance when filing a claim after a car accident. Check the fine print of your auto insurance policy and make sure you understand how the coverage works in different situations.
- When Your Kids Borrow Your Car
Parents are considered liable for their kids’ negligent driving behavior using the family car. Different types of laws could apply in this case, including:
- a) Negligent Entrustment
Under negligent entrustment, a parent who lends their car to an underage child knowing that they are incompetent, reckless, or inexperienced, should pay for damages caused by their children’s negligent driving.
- b)The Family Purpose Doctrine
Some jurisdictions use the “family purpose” doctrine which states that a person who buys and maintains a vehicle for family use will be considered liable for accidents resulting from negligent driving of their family members.
- c) Signing a Minor’s Driver’s License Application
In some states, a person who signs the driver’s license application of a minor is considered legally responsible for their (minor) negligent driving. For instance, if a guardian, such as a parent, signs the application, they will be liable for the minor’s negligent driving.
California Vehicle Code section 17707 requires the parent or legal guardian of a minor must sign their driver’s license application. That said, the law holds a parent or guardian who signs the application form jointly liable if the minor is involved or causes an accident. Additionally, California Vehicle Code section 17708 states that parents or guardians can be held liable for foreseeable damages if they give express or implied permission to underage drivers who end up causing a car accident.
- When You Lend your Car to an Incompetent or Unfit Driver
If you allow an incompetent or unfit driver to use your car and they cause an accident through their negligent driving causes a car accident, you’ll be held liable for the loss caused by such drivers. A loss in this case refers to bodily injuries and property damage resulting from the accident.
The plaintiff must prove that the owner of the car had foreknowledge that the person who caused the accident was incompetent at the time of permitting them to use their car. Negligent entrustment can occur in the following situations, and you’ll be held liable for damages caused by the driver:
- A person who is drunk, or likely to become drunk;
- An underage person who isn’t legally allowed to drive;
- An inexperienced driver, such as a new driver who shouldn’t drive without supervision
- A person whose age affects their driving;
- A person with an underlying health condition that may negatively impact their driving, such as narcolepsy and others.
- A person prone to falling asleep at the wheel—could constitute negligent entrustment, or
- Someone with a reckless driving history.
When you cause a car accident while driving another person’s vehicle, thorny issues of financial responsibility may arise. That said, it may be sensible to seek advice that’s tailored to fit your situation.
You can be liable for another person’s driving depending on the situation. A legal professional specializing in personal injury law can help you understand more about this topic.