Car accidents are one of the most common types of accidents in the United States, and in 2010, there were 2.24 million people injured in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., according to a publication published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of these accidents, many resulted in lawsuits for damages for injuries and property loss.
If you are the owner of a vehicle, you may be liable for an accident involving your vehicle, whether or not you were the driver at the time of the accident. If you’re considering loaning your car to a friend or family member, here’s what you need to know first about vicarious liability:
What is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability refers to the liability, or responsibility, of the car owner in the event of an accident, regardless of whether or not the car owner was driving or was even present at the time. Essentially, the car owner may be responsible for anyone driving his or her car in the event that the driver behaves in a negligent manner. This relationship between car owner and car driver can be between an employer and employee, a parent and a child, or a person and his or her friend or acquaintance. As long as the driver of the car is driving with the owner’s permission, the owner can be held liable for the driver’s negligent actions.
Letting a Reckless Person Drive Your Car
If a car owner allows a person who is reckless, incompetent, or otherwise unfit to drive, drive his or her vehicle, and if that driver causes a car accident, then the owner may be held liable for all injuries and damages caused by the accident. In cases such as these, the owner of the car is held under two categories of the law: vicarious liability and negligent entrustment.
It is important to note that a vehicle owner will not always be held liable for an accident caused by the driver of his or her vehicle; rather, liability will depend upon a variety of circumstances, including the severity of the accident, the negligence of the driver, the relationship between the car owner and car driver, and whether or not the owner knew that the driver of the vehicle was “reckless, incompetent, and unfit” upon loaning the vehicle to him or her.
Seeking the Advice of a Legal Professional
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident and the other driver has stated that the vehicle is not theirs it is important that you act fast to ensure that you do not get stuck with the bill for damages you sustained. Before you talk to any insurance companies, contact Tate Law Offices, P.C., today by calling 888-662-3892 for a free case review. Determining liability when the driver is not the owner of the motor vehicle is paramount to the success of your case and anything you say to the insurance company could potentially place the burden of liability on your shoulders.