Can A Car Owner Be Sued For Another Driver’s Accident?

Lou Pendas

Legally reviewed by Lou Pendas on October 17, 2022 Lou Pendas is a member of the 1-800-Injured network.

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Handing someone else the keys to your car can be a bit scary, even if they are a trusted friend or family member. You know that you can count on them, but a vehicle is one of the most expensive things we own, and accidents happen. If your car is involved in an accident while someone else is driving, can you be sued?

In most cases, the answer is no. The driver is usually the one who is held liable for an accident, not the owner of the vehicle. This is true even if the car owner gave permission for the other person to drive.

There are a few exceptions, however, which we will discuss in greater detail in this post. One of the most important things for you as a vehicle owner to know is whether or not you have any restrictions on your car insurance policy. If you loan someone your vehicle and they get into an accident, you don’t want to find out after the fact that your insurance isn’t going to cover them — because that means you are going to be on the hook.

Take a look below to learn more about times when a car owner may be held liable for an accident that someone else caused while driving their vehicle. If you’ve been in an auto accident with a driver who was using someone else’s vehicle, or if you are being sued for someone else’s accident in your car, contact 1-800-Injured right away. 1-800-Injured is a legal and medical referral service.

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

Sometimes, a car owner can be held liable for an accident caused by someone else driving their vehicle. This is called negligent entrustment, and it happens when the owner gives permission to someone they know, or should know, is not a safe driver.

To put it another way, negligent entrustment happens when “one party (“the entrustor“) is held liable for negligence because they negligently provided another party (“the entrustee”) with a dangerous instrumentality, and the entrusted party caused injury to a third party with that instrumentality.”

The following are a few examples of negligent entrustment.

You Loaned Your Car To an Intoxicated Driver

If you and a friend are out at the bar having a few drinks and they ask to borrow your car to go pick someone up or run to the store, you have an important decision to make: do you let this person get into your vehicle and drive while intoxicated? If you do, and they get into an accident, you can be held liable.

The reason is that when you loan your car to someone, you are lending them your responsibility as well. If you knew or should have known that the person was intoxicated, and you let them drive anyway, then you are just as responsible as they are under the doctrine of negligent entrustment.

You Loaned Your Car To an Underaged Driver

Suppose you have a family member or friend who is not of legal driving age, and you still loan them your vehicle. In that case, you are allowing an unlicensed, untrained, and underaged individual to operate a motor vehicle. This is generally not a good idea. If they cause an accident, you can be held liable under the doctrine of negligent entrustment. More importantly, you put them and everyone else on the road at risk of an accident caused by their inexperience.

You Loaned Your Car To an Unlicensed Person

If you loan your car to someone who doesn’t have a license, or their license is suspended or revoked, you can be held liable for any accidents they cause. Once again, this goes back to the idea that when you loan your vehicle to someone, you are also lending them your responsibility.

If they cause an accident and it is determined that they were not licensed to drive or their license was suspended or revoked, then you can be held liable. This is because you should have known that they were not legally allowed to operate a motor vehicle, and you still let them do so.

You Loaned Your Car To Someone With a History of Reckless Driving

If you know that someone has a history of reckless driving or has been in multiple accidents, and you still loan them your car, you can be held liable if they get into another accident.

This is because you are well aware of their dangerous driving habits, and yet you still let them operate your vehicle. This is negligent entrustment, and it can come back to bite you if they cause an accident while driving your car.

Your Vehicle Was Not Insured

If you did not have insurance on your vehicle at the time of an accident, you can be held liable for any damages caused by the accident.

This is because it is your responsibility as a car owner to have insurance on your vehicle. If you do not have insurance and someone is injured in an accident caused by your car, they can sue you for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is why it is so important that you have a clear understanding of what your insurance policy covers and does not cover (including additional drivers), and most importantly, to make sure that you do not have any lapses in coverage.

Contact 1-800-Injured Today

If you or someone you know has been in an accident caused by negligent entrustment, contact 1-800-Injured right away. 1-800-Injured is a legal and medical referral service that can connect you with the right car accident attorney for your case and get you the treatment you need to recover from your injuries. If you have been in an accident, don’t wait to get help; contact 1-800-Injured today.