If my wife and 9 year old son were in a horrific automobile accident but the at fault driver was only 20, is his mom liable for our bills?

The other driver was not the owner of the vehicle. The vehicle was in his mom’s name. His, or his mom’s policy, only covers about 10% of our medical cost.

Asked on October 28, 2015 under Personal Injury, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The mother may be liable if, as you indicate, it was her car: a vehicle owner can be liable liable for injuries or damage caused by an at-fault driver whom she allows to driver her car. You should sue both the driver and his mother, to maximize the chance of recovering something--because the real problem you face seems like it won't be proving liability, but will be collecting money. That's because even if a court holds the other side liable, if they don't have money, you can't get any money: a court judgment does not make money appear where there is none. If their insurance is inadequate, you have to look to their personal assets and incomes to pay; but if they don't earn much or have much, they may not have the money to pay you--and they could also file for bankruptcy if you win money from them: bankruptcy works against debts arising from lawsuits. You should consult with a personal injury attorney about the case, but you have to be prepared that if the at-fault driver and his mother have little money, you will have trouble recovering compensation.

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