What to do if my car was hit by a car that was stolen?

The car thief hit my car during his run from the police. The car’s owner is a rental car company and the car was stolen from the renter. Can I sue the rental car company or the renter to recover my damages?

Asked on September 16, 2012 under Accident Law, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you almost certainly can not sue the rental car company or the renter: a person (or business) is not responsible (so, not liable) for the criminal actions of third parties conducted without his, her, or its approval. Just as you would not be liable if a thief stole your car and hit someone else, so the owner and authorized driver of this car are not liable for what the thief did to you. Liability in a case like this depends on fault: if the car is stolen from somone, that person is not at fault.

(Obviously, if you can show that someone actually was involved in the theft--for example, that the car was stolen by a rental car company employee, using a spare key; or the alleged "thief" was actually a drunk friend of the renter, whom he allowed to use the car--then you can hold that person liable.)

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