What can we do if our car was hit in our daughter’s driveway by a 19 year old drunk driver who was not an authorized driver on the owner’s policy?

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What can we do if our car was hit in our daughter’s driveway by a 19 year old drunk driver who was not an authorized driver on the owner’s policy?

We think the car is totaled. We saw got the police report and the kid driving was driving his girlfriend’s car, which he also totaled. However her insurer says that she didn’t give him permission so they are not going to cover it. The guy won’t answer his phone for her insurance company. The car needs to be replaced and we can’t pay for it. What should we do?

Asked on July 6, 2015 under Accident Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Sue the driver and the girlfriend. You don't have to take the insurance company's opinion as that last word--it is not a legal determination, but is just the opinion of a company that would rather not pay money. Sue the driver, since he was clearly at fault--even if he did not have insurance, you can potentially get the money directly from him (insurance just means there's another way to pay; someone without insurance can be liable, and, if so, will have to pay out of pocket). Even if he doesn't have much money, if he has a job, you may be able to garnish his wages.

Sue her because it was her car. If she did not report the car as stolen, the presumption is that he *did* have permission to drive it--when someone takes your car without permission, that is theft, after all. (Sometimes permission may not explicit; it may be implicit, such as by letting someone have your keys and not filing a police report if he uses them.) Let her prove in court that she did not give him permission and is not liable. If you win against her, her insurer may have to cover her; and even if not, again, you can potentially collect directly from her.


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