In some circumstances, you may be responsible for an accident even if you were not driving the car.
In most cases, a driver of a car could be found liable for an accident, especially if it is found that they were negligent. In some circumstances, however, this may change and it may be that liability is assigned to someone who may not have even been in the car during the accident. This may come as quite a surprise but this can and does happen from time to time.
Employees Driving a Car
If an employee is driving a car and they drive negligently their employer may be found responsible if they were undertaking work-related duties at the time of the accident. For example, if someone is driving one of your company cars and they run a red light and hit another car you could be found responsible. The actions by the employee come under vicarious liability or perhaps imputed negligence. This is when two people or parties have a relationship with each other, and when the law can hold one of them liable for the other parties’ misconduct.
For example, if you have been employed to deliver groceries to customers, the company that employs you could be found responsible if your delivery truck rear-ends a car. The company you work for will be found liable because you were undertaking your work at the time of the accident. However, if you decided to take the truck out on a Sunday and you’re not employed to work Sundays the company that employs you will not be found liable.
When Someone Else Drives your Vehicle
In some states, even if you give someone permission to use your car you will be found legally responsible for any negligent driving. In other words, if you let someone drive your car you are responsible for their driving.
– Allowing your Children to Drive your Car
In some states, parents are held liable when their child drives their car in a negligent manner. However, this is not as straightforward as it may seem as there are some theories and laws that make a difference to who is found negligent.
– Negligent Entrustment
If you lend your car to a minor child and you know that they have very little experience or they’re reckless you may be liable for any damage that they cause while driving.
– The Family Purpose Doctrine
In some states, the Family Purpose Doctrine is used, and when the car is bought and maintained for family use the owner of that vehicle can be found liable for a family member’s negligent driving.
– A Driver’s License Application
If you sign a minor’s driver’s license application, specifically a minor’s application it is you who will be deemed responsible for their negligent driving.
If you Let an Unfit or Incompetent Driver use your Vehicle
Let’s imagine you have lent your car to your friend David even though you know he’s a bit incompetent behind the wheel. You could be liable for all of the damages and injuries that take place as a result of an accident. If the case is taken to court the plaintiff (The injured party) will need to prove that you knew or shown have been aware that David was incompetent when you gave him permission.
– Incompetent, Unfit, and Reckless Drivers
If you lend your car to incompetent, unfit, or reckless drivers you have committed what is known as negligent entrustment, and you could be found responsible for any injuries and damages the driver caused.
Drivers that fit into this category are:
- Unlicensed or underage
- Elderly (specifically those with slow reaction times)
- Ill (specifically those whose driving may be affected by their illness)
- Reckless driver (specifically those who has a history of reckless driving)
If you have been injured in a car accident, or you someone else has driven your car and caused an accident you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.