If my girlfriend borrowed her roommate’s car one night and I ended up driving and ran over a dead dear, what do I do?

UPDATED: Dec 14, 2011

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If my girlfriend borrowed her roommate’s car one night and I ended up driving and ran over a dead dear, what do I do?

She was coming to get me and then she felt ill so i had to drive. There are only minor damages. The rear bumper came off and the front bumper has a slight crack in it. I discovered this after getting back and parking at our destination. Technically I was not given permission to drive the car. The roommates father is asking me to pay $1600 from an estimate of about that much without insurance. Nobody was hurt. This incident can happen to anyone; if I choose not to pay and go to court, what are my options? Who is at fault? I feel it was the roommate’s fault in giving up the car and I honestly don’t need to pay anything. How much will this be in all?

Asked on December 14, 2011 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you are sued, you will very likely lose and have to pay: the grounds for finding you liable are two-fold--

1) That you did not have authority or permission to drive (which makes  you liable for damage you do); and/or

2) Even if it was lawful you to drive, you very likely were negligent (unreasonably careless) in terms of not seeing and running over a dead deer.

It is most certainly not the owner's fault--she is not liable simply for being generous to her roommate and letting her, your girlfriend, borrow the car, and that action did not directly lead to or cause the damage; the damage was caused by you hitting the deer.

Certainly you can dispute the amount of the damage, if you can get estimates, etc. showing repairs are less expensive. But as to liability or obligation to pay whatever the damage is determined to be...as stated, it is very likely that if sued, you would lose.

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