Can I file charges against the registered driver ofa vehicle if they allowed someone to drive their car and that driver caused damage to my car?

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Can I file charges against the registered driver ofa vehicle if they allowed someone to drive their car and that driver caused damage to my car?

A little over a month ago, a belligerent driver physically climbed out of his car at a red light, kicked my car causing significant damage, then hopped back into his car and sped through a red light to try to evade me. Luckily, I remembered his license plate number and called the police immediately afterward to report the incident. With the information I was able to give, the police were able to find the registered driver of the vehicle, who unfortunately, was not the man who kicked my car (the vehicle was registered to a woman).

Asked on December 19, 2011 under Accident Law, New Jersey

Answers:

Hong Shen / Roberts Law Group

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Find out if the belligerent man was a relative or family member of the registered owner. Each state has a family member statute to hold the owner vicariously liable in such a situation. If not, then you are facing a big hurdle since you must prove the owner actually knew the pendency of this man but still chose to lend him the car.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

No, you can neiether sue nor press charges against the registered driver.  The owner of vehicle is not responsible for the wrongful criminal activitiy of someone he loans it to, and from what you describe, this *was* criminal activity--e.g. vandalism, possibly attempted  assault, etc. The law does not make person A responsible for the criminal acts of person B.


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