You could be liable if your friend is driving your car

When you loan out your car to a family member or friend, the thing you are most worried about is whether or not they will return your car in one piece. No one wants to have the "money talk" with a friend or family member about repairs or inconvenience. But what you may not know is that you could also be liable for the damages for whatever accident your friend was involved in while driving your car.

The way that someone may hold you accountable, even if you were not there and had nothing to do with the accident, is through "vicarious liability" or "negligent entrustment." Basically, these terms are used to imply that you knew your friend was an unsafe driver, but you lent them the car nonetheless. So you, in effect, enabled them to cause the accident. You would of course defend yourself by arguing that, from your perspective, your friend is a reliably competent driver.

In the same fashion, parents may be held liable for the accidents caused by their minor children, even if that child is not on the auto insurance policy or, in rare circumstances, lacked permission to utilize the car. So, if you have children, make sure that they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of driving a car because it could fall on you if they get into an accident.

If you or a loved one lent their car out to a friend or family member who in turn got into an accident, you may want to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. You could be facing liability issues of which you are not even aware. No one wants to be surprised by a service processor at work, and sitting down with an attorney can help prepare you for that possibility. It is best to be proactive in handling these matters or else decisions will be made without your input.

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T.J. Smith, Attorney at Law
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