Who Is Liable In A Car Accident Owner Or Driver
When a good friend or a family member asks to borrow your car you are likely to hand them your keys without a second thought. But you should be prepared to deal with the complications that may arise if the person you lent you car gets involved in an accident. Depending on the circumstances behind the accident, you may get in trouble with the law. There are certain legal steps you can take to protect yourself with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.
You May Get Sued
In most situations, the person who was driving the car at the time of the accident will be held liable for the accident not the owner of the vehicle. But if there is negligent entrustment, the owner of the vehicle may be held liable for an accident even if the owner was not present when the accident happened. Negligent entrustment means entrusting a dangerous instrument such as a motor vehicle to a reckless, inexperienced, or incompetent person.
The prosecution side has to provide proof that the person you lent the car was unfit to drive the vehicle. You may be found to have been complicit in the accident even if you were not present during the accident in the following situations:
- The driver did not have the appropriate driving license or was underage
- The driver did not have the necessary experience to operate your vehicle safely and effectively
- The driver was drunk or intoxicated with drugs
- The driver’s driving record is full of traffic violations, reckless driving charges, DUIs and more
- The driver had a condition, illness, or had reached an advanced age that could affect their driving
But the plaintiff side must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you knew that the driver had the above negative qualities. For example, if you lent a vehicle to a friend you had no idea abused certain drugs, then the negligent entrustment principle can’t be used against you. However, if you knew that your friend abused drugs or alcohol and still let them borrow your car, you may face certain consequences.
In some cases, you may be held liable if the car you lent someone else caused an accident because it was not properly maintained. Things like non-working brakes, failing headlights, or non-working horns are obvious signs that a car owner failed to maintain their vehicle. Once proof is provided that clearly shows the car owner knew of a malfunction in their vehicle, the car owner may be held responsible for the damages and injuries resulting from the accident.
Steps To Take If The Person You Lent Your Car Was In An Accident
You should not panic when you hear that the person driving your car was in an accident, instead do the following:
- Ensure that anyone that suffered injuries in the accident gets the medical treatment they need
- Reread the rules of your insurance policy to see what it covers
- Call the police or ask the driver to call the police
- Make sure the driver collects photographs of the accident scene, and ask the driver to speak with any witnesses and get their contact information
- Call a lawyer as soon as you can