If my wife bought my stepson a car in her name, can we be held liable if he is in ann accident?

UPDATED: Apr 5, 2015

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If my wife bought my stepson a car in her name, can we be held liable if he is in ann accident?

On my wife’s recent visit to see her son, she bought a car in her name along with the insurance for her son to drive. He has no drivers license due to a prior DUI. If he causes damage, hurts someone or kills someone with that car, can I be held liable. All of our married assets are in my name only.

Asked on April 5, 2015 under Accident Law, West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you could potentially be held liable:

1) Clearly your wife could be liable, as the owner of the car. The owner of a vehicle is liable for any accidents, damage, or injury caused by a driver she allows to use the car, if that driver is at fault. Given that your stepson has a DUI history and no license, it's highly likely he would be, or at least would be found to be, at fault.

2) If a court felt that married--i.e. what would normally be joint--assets were in your name only to protect them from creditors but that in all ways but title they were joint assets, the court might ignore the titling of them as ruse or artifice to defraud creditors and treat them as joint assets. That's to say this is the case, but assuming your wife does make sure of or get the benefit of at least some of these assets, a court could find that titling or ownership "on paper" is overruled by the actual use and possession.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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