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