Can someone sue me if they were driving my car without my knowledge and got ticketed because it was not registered?

My car was impounded when a relative of mine took my keys and had his neighbor drive him somewhere, all without my knowledge. The car wasn’t registered or insured as it was not being driven at the time due to mechanical issues. The neighbor got a ticket for the vehicle not being registered and wants to sue me. I paid over $400 for impound fees and, as I mentioned, had no knowledge my vehicle was being driven. I did not consent to anyone driving it. Can his neighbor sue me?

Asked on April 1, 2017 under General Practice, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the relative generally had permission to take your car or not (if he generally could, the fact that he may not have asked *this* time does not matter, since he was doing what he had overall permission to do).
If the relative could take the car, you could possibly be sued by the driver to recover his fines or fees he paid due to the lack of insurance, since he would have been driving the car lawfully, with permission from someone who himself had permission. You should not be letting a car be used without ensuring insurance and registration.
If the relative could not take the car, then this taking of it was technically theft, and no one can sue for losses arising from their own wrongful act--in this case, driving what in essence was a stolen car. Not only should he not be able to sue you, but you could sue him and the relative for your costs, like the impound fees.


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