Am I held responsible, what should I do?

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Am I held responsible, what should I do?

My kid’s father took my vehicle without permission, well I was at work. He wouldn’t return my calls. A day later the hospital caps me and he is in the psych ward. I go talk to him he was high on meth at the time. So he couldn’t remember where the vehicle was or how he ended up in the psych ward. I find out weeks later he got into an accident. I took the insurance off a week prier because I just got a new vehicle and was going to sell that one. He lost the keys and the vehicle was impounded. I wasn’t able to get it out due to no money. I just got a

letter today from the person he crashed into. And they are looking to me for the insurance money. Shouldnt he be held ‘accountable? What should I do?

Asked on October 12, 2017 under Accident Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

IF he stole the car--because that's what taking your car without permission is: stealing it--then you should not be responsible for the accident he was in. You would have to 1) be able to honestly and reasonably convince the authorities that he did NOT have permission, not even general or implied permission (e.g. you let him borrow your car in the past, which creates a presumption that he had the right to use it, even if he did not explicitly ask this particular time); and 2) you have to file a police report and press charges--because that's what you do when somone steals your car. If you do and are able to press charges, send a copy of the police report, etc. to the person he crashed into, explain your car was stolen so you are not yourself liable, but pass on your kid's father's contact information (to the extent you know it) so he can be sued. This may be enough to release you from liability and/or get the other person to sue the person who stole your car. If this does not work and you are sued, you can sue your kid's father in turn for any amounts, losses, or costs you incur (though that will not help if he does not have the money to pay).
Remember: there are car thieves, and there are people whom you allowed to use your car, even if you only "allowed" them by not reporting that they stole your car. There is nothing in-between; to show that he did not have authority to use your car, you have to treat him as a criminal.


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