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Is the Car Owner Always at Responsible for the Accident?

Is the Car Owner Always at Responsible for the Accident?

Posted By The Dunnion Law Firm || 22-Dec-2016

How do you determine fault in a car accident? Generally speaking, it all comes down to negligence—which driver did or didn’t do something that caused the accident to happen? It seems pretty simple, but it’s never that cut-and-dry.

It’s even more complicated if you, as the owner of the car, weren’t in the car at the time of the accident. Who’s at fault if that is the case? An experienced car wreck lawyer will be able to help your claim if your car has been involved in a car accident without you in it. Let’s take a deeper look at instances where the owner is responsible for a car accident.

Company Car Accidents

In many situations, employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees during work hours and activities, and driving is no exception. The idea that one party, such as an employer, can be responsible for another, the employee, due to the nature of their relationship is called “vicarious liability.” So, if an employee has a company car and gets involved in a car accident during work hours or while performing work duties, you as the employer are likely to be held liable for covering the damages.

Lending Your Car to a Friend

Some states require you to have a formalized relationship with a person, such as that of employer-employee, in order to be held liable for their actions behind the wheel. However, others grant that by giving someone permission to drive your car, you are assuming responsibility for their driving. Liability in these states activates as soon as you’ve given someone permission and knowingly grant them access to your car.

Family Car Accidents

Accidents often occur when people allow their children to drive their or a family car, and many states hold the parent (or guardian) liable when these accidents do happen. “Negligent entrustment” is the idea that you are knowingly letting a minor—your child—drive your car even though they may be inexperienced or reckless.

Some states follow a doctrine of “family purpose,” which holds that when someone (generally a parent) has purchased a car for the intention of general use by the entire family, that person is now responsible for any accident that may happen while any member of the family is driving the family car. Also, some states hold the parent who signed their child’s license application responsible for any of their driving, if the child is a minor.

Letting Unfit Drivers Drive Your Car

Negligent entrustment doesn’t just apply when you allow your children to drive your or a family car; it also applies when you lend your car to someone knowing they are somehow unfit to drive. The plaintiff in these cases would have to somehow prove that you, the defendant, knew the driver was unfit to drive your car yet lent it to them or gave them access anyway.

A car wreck lawyer is your best bet if you’ve found yourself saddled with a lawsuit for a car accident you weren’t involved in. If you need a car wreck lawyer and are located in the areas of Monterey or San Jose, CA, give us a call at Dunnion Law Firm today.
Categories: Auto Accident