Car stolen and was in an accident that took down a power pole

My 27 year old son stole my car and ran into a power pole while intoxicated. He
was not arrested for the theft until several days later. The electric company
says since the day it was stole was not stated on the police report they are
going to sue me instead of submitting claim to my car insurance. The reports were
written and he was arrested for the theft several days later along with other

Asked on May 2, 2016 under Accident Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) If the car was stolen when the accident occured, you are not liable for it; a vehicle owner is not liable for accidents or damage caused by someone who stole the vehicle from him or her. The problem will be proving that: since the thief was your son and you did not report it stolen immediately (based on what you write), the assumption will be that the car was *not* actually stolen--i.e. that he'd borrowed it with permission, and you only reported it stolen later, in order to avoid liability. So while legally you may not be liable, practically, you may have difficulty proving that.
2) Social security cannot be garnished by creditors, so if you don't have other income or much in the way of assets (e.g. a home you own), even if the do sue you and win, they may effectively not be able to collect from you.
3) You can sue your son for any amounts you do have to pay because of his accident, other costs (like repair costs for your car) you incur.

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