What is my liability for an accident that someone had while driving my car without permission?

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What is my liability for an accident that someone had while driving my car without permission?

I let a friend use my car while I was on vacation to take my dog for his appointment to get neutered. She decided to allow her fiance use my car to drive to work (which I never gave her permission to). He totalled my car. What am I liable and not liable for. As for the car and me being out a car they said they will be willing to buy my car for $2500. Do I sell it to them and just settle so tht I can get a new car or do I need to take it to court? My main concern is not being liable for this accident. Im fine with only getting $2500.

Asked on April 2, 2013 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

John Gorman / John L. Gorman III, Attorney at Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Soley on the basis of being the owner of a vehicle, you are liable for up to $15,000 for an accident caused by a person to whom you give permission to drive.  Usually, yourinsurance will cover you for this, but it is possible that your policy does not provide that coverage or that the particular driver was excluded.  You should call yourinsurance company right away and report the matter.  If you were negligent in loaning the car to someone you knew or had reson to know was unsafe, you could be liable for additional damages.  It is arguable that loaning a car to a friend includes his letting his fiance' drive, but that is arguable.  You need to turn this matter over to your insurer.  They are great at finding ways NOT to pay, and if you are covered, pay for the lawyer to defend you or for a settlement.  Otherwise, seek legal advice. This is based upon CALIFORNIA LAW.  States have different laws in this area.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you are potentially liable for the accident: you let your friend use the car, and so it could be taken that her then letting her fiance use it was with permission, since a person with permission or authority to use the car in turn authorized him. At the least, even if you were to win any lawsuit against you, you'd almost certainly (as the car's owner) be sued in the first place and have to spend time and money defending it--and you could end up losing and being liable. Them buying the car from you does not therefore necessarily solve all your problems. Speak with an attorney about the situation in detail and about how you could protect yourself from liability; it may involve, for example, your friend and her fiance executing a document in which they agree to indemnify you for any/all costs and liability, but let your attorney guide you in this.


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