Can a Car Owner Be Sue for Another Driver's Accident?

In car accident cases, the most important aspect is determining which driver is at fault. If one driver is negligent, that driver will be at fault. In fact, negligence can be assigned to someone who is not driving the car, or who was not even present in the car at the time of the accident. There are a few cases where a person who was not driving or present in the car can be held liable for an accident.

Negligent entrustment is a type of negligence which occurs when you allow someone to drive your car who is unfit drive, because they are drunk, reckless, or otherwise incompetent. This constitutes a violation of your duty of reasonable care to other drivers on the road. Any of the following people would be considered unfit to drive, and lending them your car might mean you’ve committed negligent entrustment:

  • An intoxicated driver. Lending your car to someone who is drunk is likely to be negligent entrustment.
  • An unlicensed or underage driver. Lending your car to minor would constitute negligent entrustment.
  • An inexperienced driver. Allowing an inexperienced driver use your car unsupervised, for instance, a minor with only a learner’s permit, could be negligent entrustment.
  • An elderly driver. Letting an elderly person use your car might be negligent entrustment, since a person of advanced age could be likely to have poor eyesight or slower reaction times.
  • An ill driver. A driver who suffers from an illness which affects their driving is an example of negligent entrustment.
  • A previously reckless driver. Lending your car to someone who has a past of reckless driving could be another example of negligent entrustment.

You could also be sued for a car accident you were not physically involved in if you are found guilty of negligent maintenance. Negligent maintenance is also a violation of your duty of care to other. and it is caused by you improperly maintaining your vehicle. This kind of negligence occurs if you fail to attend to your car’s maintenance, and the car’s mechanical problem causes the accident. An accident caused by a poorly maintained car’s mechanical failure could also come under negligence per se.

Finally, you could be held responsible for another driver’s accident if it was caused by your employee, which would qualify you for vicarious liability. Vicarious liability allows the employer to be held accountable for their employer’s conduct. If you allow your employee to drive the company vehicle, or if your employee is on a run for your business, you could be held liable for any accidents, injuries, or damages caused by their driving.

Still, it will be taken into account whether or not the employee was actually performing work duties or not when the accident occurred. For instance, if an employee was making a delivery in the company truck and got into an accident, the company would be held liable for the driver’s action. However, if the employee took the truck out for the weeknd on his own accord, or took the truck on a detour or frolic while on a delivery, the company might not be held liable.


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