If your 21 year old is living in your home what, if any, can be the legal liabilities?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If your 21 year old is living in your home what, if any, can be the legal liabilities?

Nothing has happened just want to be sure what we are legally responsible for. Our son,lives in our home but doesn’t pay rent, although he has a vehicle in his name and his own insurance policy. Do we have to have him as a driver on our policy and could we be legally/financially held responsible if he were to have an accident?

Asked on February 9, 2017 under Accident Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) You are not legally or financially responsible if he has an accident in his own car--he is an adult, and merely living with you does not make you liable for his accidents in a vehicle you own.
2) If he borrows your car, even without your express permission (e.g. his car is blocked in, out of gas, being repaired, etc. so he takes your car; something he can do as a family member in your home knowing where the keys are), you could be held liable if he is at fault for an accident. The owner of a car is liable for the accidents of someone who took the car without their permission. Under the circumstances of him being your son and living with you, the only way to convince a court or an insurer that he did *not* have permission to use your car would be to press charges against him for theft (if someone takes your car without permission, it is theft), while also estabishling that you have not previously let him borrow the car (since if you have, that would tend to show he *could* borrow it and you are only claiming it was stolen *this* time to avoid liability).
3) Probably you need to add him to your insurance to make sure you would be covered if he did borrow your car and have an accident: as a family member living with you, he is a foreseeable driver.

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