Liability of Car Owners after an Accident


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Car owners, even if they are not the one driving when an accident occurred, may still be held legally liable for any injury sustained by victims.

Here are some of the situations that will make people liable for car accidents even if they are not the drivers:

Employee Accidents

Employers are legally liable for any wrongful act of their employees, including negligent driving.  However, the negligence should occur while the workers are performing their duties. For example, a bus company hired a driver who hit another vehicle.  In this situation, the business owner should pay for all the damages (medical bills, car repairs, loss of wages) the victims have sustained.

However, the bus company may avoid liability if the driver took the carrier without permission during his day-off and drove it and hit another car.

Drivers Other than the Owner

In most states, car owners who permit someone to drive their vehicles are held liable for the latter’s negligent driving which causes injuries to other people.  It is not required that the car owner and the negligent driver have employee-employer relationship. A car owner allows an incompetent or unsafe driver to use his vehicle. In negligent entrustment case, a car owner has allowed a reckless, unsafe, or incompetent driver to use the vehicle.  To recover claims, the injured victims should prove that the car owner knew that the driver was unfit to drive.

Unfit Drivers

Unfit drivers include: intoxicated, inexperienced & underage, unlicensed, elderly, sick, and individuals with bad driving records.

  • Parents who allow minor children to drive the car
  • In most states, parents are held liable if they allow their minor child to drive the car. This is also a case of negligent entrustment.

Parents sign the license application of their minor child

There is a law in some states that makes a person who signs a minor’s driver license application as liable for the latter’s negligent driving.

Family Purpose Doctrine

When parents purchased a car for family use, they will be held liable for the negligent driving of any family member including their children.

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