The police and your auto insurance company will immediately try to determine negligence in a car accident. Although it seems hard to understand, there are common circumstances where you could be held liable and sued for negligence in a car accident even if you weren’t driving or in the vehicle at all.
Here are 3 Common Situations Your Car Was in an Accident Without You
An Employee Driving a Work Vehicle
An employer will be held responsible for wrongful acts including negligent driving by an employee driving for work purposes and performing a work related task. The legal terms for this responsibility are “vicarious liability” or “imputed negligence”, identifying the specific relationship between employer and employee. If an employee drives a company vehicle without permission in their non-work hours or uses the vehicle for a non-work related task, the employer would not be held responsible.
You Let a Friend or Family Member Drive Your Car
Under the negligent entrustment law in some states, if you own a car and give permission for someone else to drive it, you will be held legally responsible for any negligent driving in the car particularly if it can be proved that you knew they were unfit to drive.
You Let Your Children Drive Your Car
In many states parents are automatically liable for their kids’ negligent driving in the family car. There are specific laws and legal theories involved in this decision:
Negligent entrustment says that if a parent lends the car to a minor child who they know to be an incompetent or reckless driver they are responsible for their actions.
The Family Purpose Doctrine used in some states says that when a parent buys a vehicle for general family use then they are liable for any damages caused by negligent driving in that vehicle.
In some states signing a minor’s driver’s license application makes you legally responsible for that minor’s driving behavior.
How To Tell if a Driver is Incompetent, Reckless, or Unfit
Lending your car to a person you know falls into any of the following categories could put you at risk for committing negligent entrustment, and you could be sued for any damages caused by the driver.
- A drunk or high driver
- An underage and therefore unlicensed driver
- An inexperienced driver such as a minor with only a learner’s license
- An elderly driver with poor eyesight or reaction times
- A sick driver such as someone who experiences seizures or narcolepsy
- A driver with a history of reckless driving
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!