What is my liability if I got into an accident while driving my son-in-law’s car and later found out that he had no insurance?

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What is my liability if I got into an accident while driving my son-in-law’s car and later found out that he had no insurance?

I fixed his car out of my own pocket but the woman who hit me must have done something with the insurance company because they want me to pay over $10,000 and are now suing me. Is there anything I can do? Neither one of us got a ticket; she was an elderly woman in her 80’s and she took the front end off my son-in-law’s car. Her car was an old and not nearly worth $10,000.

Asked on June 9, 2015 under Accident Law, New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you were at fault in causing the accident--e.g. driving carelessly or negligently--then you, as the driver, and your son-in-law, as the owner of the vehicle who permitted you to drive it, could be liable for her damages, costs, and (if any) physical injuries. However, the key is, you are only liable if "at fault"--if no one was at fault, or if she was at fault, you would not be liable (have to pay). (Indeed, if she were at fault, your son-in-law could sue *her* for the damage to his car.) Therefore, since she has sued you, you have two choices: 1) defend against the suit--file an answer to it, then in court (at trial) attempt to show (such as by your testimony, the testimony of any police officers or other witnesses, etc.) that you were not at fault; or 2) try to settle the case for some amount you are willing to pay. Given how much money you are being sued for, you are advised to retain an attorney and let the attorney help you.


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