If the owner of a vehicle let his unlicensed daughter drive it and she damaged my vehicle, what are my rights?

His insurance refused to pay and denied the claim because the daughter didn’t have a valid driver’s license. She was charged with felony Hit and Run because she fled the scene of the accident; after 7 months she was ordered to pay restitution to me. However, I haven’t received any monies yet to repair my vehicle. so I am getting ready to take the owner of the vehicle, her father, to small claims court on Negligent Entrustment. In addition to the owner of the vehicle, her father, do I take the mother, who had the vehicle insured in her name, also to court on the same charges as the father at the same time?

Asked on February 18, 2015 under Accident Law, Alabama


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You should name the father (registered owner of the vehicle), mother ( who is insured under the auto insurance policy) and daughter as defendants in your lawsuit for negligent entrustment.  The parents are liable for negligent entrustment.  The daughter is liable for negligence.  The father is also liable for negligence as the registered owner of the vehicle.  Only one lawsuit is filed naming all three defendants.  Negligence and negligent entrustment are separate causes of action (claims) in your lawsuit.

Your damages (amount of monetary compensation you are claiming in your lawsuit) should include the cost of repairs to your car, rental car expense and court costs.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by selecting an auto body shop with rates comparable to other auto body shops in the area.  You also need to mitigate damages by selecting a rental car with a reasonable rate.

If you were to select the most expensive auto body shop you could find and/or the most expensive rental car you could find, you have failed to mitigate damages and your damages will be reduced accordingly.

Court costs you can recover in the case include the court filing fee and process server fee.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the owner(s) of the vehicle, because they are liable for the actions of any permitted drivers (people whom they let drive). If the daughter was an adult, you can sue her personally as well; if she was a minor, then you have an additional ground to sue her parents, since the parents or legal guardians of a minor are liable for the damage she causes.

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