Can someone sue me if they were driving my car without my knowledge and got ticketed because it was not registered?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can someone sue me if they were driving my car without my knowledge and got ticketed because it was not registered?

My car was impounded when a relative of mine took my keys and had his neighbor drive him somewhere, all without my knowledge. The car wasn’t registered or insured as it was not being driven at the time due to mechanical issues. The neighbor got a ticket for the vehicle not being registered and wants to sue me. I paid over $400 for impound fees and, as I mentioned, had no knowledge my vehicle was being driven. I did not consent to anyone driving it. Can his neighbor sue me?

Asked on April 1, 2017 under General Practice, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the relative generally had permission to take your car or not (if he generally could, the fact that he may not have asked *this* time does not matter, since he was doing what he had overall permission to do).
If the relative could take the car, you could possibly be sued by the driver to recover his fines or fees he paid due to the lack of insurance, since he would have been driving the car lawfully, with permission from someone who himself had permission. You should not be letting a car be used without ensuring insurance and registration.
If the relative could not take the car, then this taking of it was technically theft, and no one can sue for losses arising from their own wrongful act--in this case, driving what in essence was a stolen car. Not only should he not be able to sue you, but you could sue him and the relative for your costs, like the impound fees.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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