Who is considered to be an authorized driver?

My neighbor’s daughter is a licensed 17-year-old driver who recently picked up my own daughter 2 hours away at college. My daughter drove the car home with her friend’s consent. Does that consent mean my daughter was authorized to drive the car if the friend’s parents did not consent? The car struck a deer while my daughter was at the wheel. The parents want to sue us for damages on the grounds that our daughter was not authorized to drive their car. Was she?

Asked on October 29, 2015 under Accident Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your daughter was authorized to drive the car, because she was authorized by someone who 1) herself had the authority to drive (someone authorized by the vehicle's owner can in turn let another person drive) and 2) whom (as the daughter of the owners) your daughter would reasonably believe to have authority (which means she had apparent authority, and other people, like your daughter, may rely on and act in accordance with the reasonable appearance of authority).
The above said, IF your daughter was at fault in the collision, she could still be liable: the owner of a car may recover compensation from an authorized driver who is at fault in damaging the car. So if your daughter hit the deer because she was inattentive, driving distractedly, driving too fast, etc., she could be liable.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.