If a car owner willfully lendstheir car to an uninsureddriver who then has an accident, who is liable for the damages?

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If a car owner willfully lendstheir car to an uninsureddriver who then has an accident, who is liable for the damages?

Ownerknew the driver was uninsured. It was a one car accident into a side rail, which was also damaged. Uninsured motorist thought she was covered by the vehicle’s insurance. Owner says it is covered but that her rates will go up if she claims it on insurance. There was no pre-arranged agreement that the driver would pay for any damages in the event of an accident. Owner wants the driver to pay for all damages, including a bent frame which does not impair the vehicles performance. Vehicle has a record of being in a previous accident.

Asked on July 10, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

When I first read the question here I had assumed that the explanation of the facts had to sue with a lawsuit from another party against the owner and driver and who was covered.  But really this is a question that does not need any in depth issues on insurance coverage.  If your state has what is known as permissive use, where the owner of a vehicle can give a driver permission to use their vehicle, then the driver is covered by the insurance of the owner in the event of an accident.  It appears from what you have said that you have such coverage.  Now, that does not mean that the driver who caused the accident is not liable for the damages.  In fact just the opposite and more.  It means should the driver be found liable for the damages they are covered by the insurance.  But common sense says that if they are the one that caused the accident they can be held liable, but only for the damages they caused (i.e., not the prior accident and not the bent frame if they did not cause it).  Good luck.


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