Is a co-borrower on a car loan liable for damage caused in an accident if he/she was not driving the car?

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Is a co-borrower on a car loan liable for damage caused in an accident if he/she was not driving the car?

My mom co-borrowed for a not so dependable friend. The friend manipulated her into

it without the family’s knowledge. Mom is 93 years old and in assisted living.

Asked on October 22, 2016 under Accident Law, Idaho

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

IF your mother only co-signed the loan but is not on the car's title, she should not be liable: co-signing a loan, by itself, only makes you responsible for  the loan, not for anything else involving the car. 
But if she is on the title, then she is an owner of the car, even if she never uses it, it's garaged elsewhere, etc.; being on title makes one an owner. If she is an owner, then if the "friend" is at fault in causing an accident (e.g. was driving carelessly or negligently), then your mother would be liable, too, since a vehicle's owner is liable for the actions of those whom she lets use the car, including the actions of a co-owner.


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