If a new car owner caused an accident butnever registeredthe vehicle in their name, what is the title owner’s liability?

UPDATED: Jan 13, 2011

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If a new car owner caused an accident butnever registeredthe vehicle in their name, what is the title owner’s liability?

We sold our truck 4 years ago and just found out that the buyer never registered it. He caused an accident and now an insurance company is trying to collect from ussince we are still the registered owners. I did file a NRL but do not have a copy (will take 4-6 weeks) nor a bill of sale. Insureris also claiming that they will garnish our wages and take our DL if we do not pay. Driver/new owner will not answer calls or e-mails. What can the insurance company do legally? What use is the NRL if it does not release us from liability?

Asked on January 13, 2011 under Accident Law, California


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Ok, you need a lawyer on this here.  First, report the matter to your insurance company.  I know - the truck is no longer insured but do it anyway.  The insurance company may not indemnify you - pay out a claim on your behalf - but they sure as heck may defend you and that is what you nee.  The insurance company is going to sue you for the money and you are going to have to bring in (implead) the party to whom you sold the vehicle.  Did you turn in your plates for the truck?  Do you have that proof or can you get it?  Do not let them threaten you about your driver's license.  Only the issuing agency or a court order can take that away.  Get help.  Good luck.

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