Who is considered to be an authorized driver?

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Who is considered to be an authorized driver?

My neighbor’s daughter is a licensed 17-year-old driver who recently picked up my own daughter 2 hours away at college. My daughter drove the car home with her friend’s consent. Does that consent mean my daughter was authorized to drive the car if the friend’s parents did not consent? The car struck a deer while my daughter was at the wheel. The parents want to sue us for damages on the grounds that our daughter was not authorized to drive their car. Was she?

Asked on October 29, 2015 under Accident Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your daughter was authorized to drive the car, because she was authorized by someone who 1) herself had the authority to drive (someone authorized by the vehicle's owner can in turn let another person drive) and 2) whom (as the daughter of the owners) your daughter would reasonably believe to have authority (which means she had apparent authority, and other people, like your daughter, may rely on and act in accordance with the reasonable appearance of authority).
The above said, IF your daughter was at fault in the collision, she could still be liable: the owner of a car may recover compensation from an authorized driver who is at fault in damaging the car. So if your daughter hit the deer because she was inattentive, driving distractedly, driving too fast, etc., she could be liable.


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