If my son’s car was used while he was away at basic training and his car was in a head on collision, can the other driver’s insurance company sue my son even if he was not involved?

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If my son’s car was used while he was away at basic training and his car was in a head on collision, can the other driver’s insurance company sue my son even if he was not involved?

My son was gone for basic training. While he was there his car was driven by his brother who had no driver’s license and no insurance. He caused a head on collision due to falling asleep at the wheel and both vehicles were totaled. The brother was then air evacuated to a trauma hospital. The other driver’s had liability insurance. Their insurance company has made attempts and threats to sue my son who owned vehicle, although he was in no way involved in the incident.

Asked on January 14, 2017 under Accident Law, Arizona

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The registered owner of the vehicle is liable for the accident even though he wasn't at the scene of the accident.
 If your son, the owner of the vehicle at fault in the accident had insurance, his insurance company will deny the other driver's (party who was not at fault) claim because your son's brother  was an unauthorized, unlicensed driver not on the insurance policy. 
The registered owner of the vehicle is liable for the property damage to the vehicle not at fault in the accident and the personal injury claims of its occupants.
When there is a court judgment against your son in the case, he could sue his brother for negligence to recover the amount of the judgment and for the loss of his car.  Another alternative would be for your son (the registered owner of the vehicle) to file bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straight liquidation which will eliminate that debt.  It would be premature to file bankruptcy until there is a court judgment against the registered owner because the total amount of the judgment is required in order to file bankruptcy.
 


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