If I failed to change the title of my car from my ex-husband’s name to mine and insure the vehicle, can he be held responsible if I had an incident with the car?

My husband and I got divorced and I got the car out of our separation. Not long after, I took an unplanned trip out of state to take someone home. I failed to switch the car out of my ex-husband’s name and to get insurance. We were in an accident on the way there. However, I was not driving and was not given any violations. We did not hit anyone but debris hit another vehicle. They made a claim. About 2 years later, the insurance company of the individual who was struck with debris, is calling my ex-husband threatening to revoke his license. I have talked with them myself and explained that it was my fault and negligence to switch it out of my name. Can they take his license away? If so, is there anything I can do to stop that?

Asked on September 30, 2014 under Accident Law, Tennessee

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Your ex-husband is liable for the accident because he was the registered owner of the vehicle when the accident occurred since title had not been transferred to you.

The laws vary from state to state as to the penalties for driving without insurance.  The Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend a driver's license until there is proof of insurance.  In some states, the Department of Motor Vehicles will cancel the current registration until there is proof of insurance.

If the car is insured and there is proof of insurance, that should result in the DMV not suspending a driver's license.  However, the insurance is not retroactive and your husband is still liable for the accident since he was the registered owner of the vehicle.  The party, who was not at fault in the accident, could sue your husband to recover the cost of repairs to the vehicle that was damaged by the debris since your vehicle was uninsured when the accident occurred.

If the other driver had uninsured motorist coverage, that individual would file an uninsured motorist claim through his/her insurance company, but that insurance company will sue your husband to recover the amount it paid on the claim.


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