What to do if 2 weeks ago my brother took my car without my consent and ended up getting into an accident?

There were no personal injuries since he hit a parked vehicle. My insurance had denied my claim because my brother wasn’t listed under my insurance policy. Today I got a message from the owner of the crashed vehicle letting me know that his insurance company had declared his car as totaled. I don’t feel comfortable just handing him money. I would like to get a second or third opinion/assessment. I’m thinking about hiring an attorney to help me. Do you believe this is a wise choice? Would an attorney be able to help me make sure that I am paying no more and no less?

Asked on June 2, 2014 under Accident Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Yes go and speak with an attorney as soon as possible.  California vehicle coded 17150 states:  "Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner."  So if a car is lent, then the owner can be held responsible for the accident.  This is called “permissive use”.  What you are claiming here is that he did not have permission and if that is the case then it was considered stolen.  You need to start a declaratory judgement action against your insurance company too.  Good luck.

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