What is a car owner’s responsibility for an accident if the driver didn’t have permission to use the car?

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What is a car owner’s responsibility for an accident if the driver didn’t have permission to use the car?

I received a summons for myself and my boyfriend. He was in a car collision accident over a year ago. I am the owner of the vehicle and the only one insured on my car insurance; he was excluded on my policy therefore my insurance doesn’t cover any damages (to either my car or the other car). I’m lost and confused about how to remove myself from the case. I was not in the car at the time of the accident and I shouldn’t be responsible for the cost since I didn’t give permission for my boyfriend to drive the vehicle. Where should i go from here? This is my first time getting sued.

Asked on July 2, 2014 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you can convincingly demonstrate that your friend drove your car without your knowledge and consent, then you should not be held liable for the damages. In such a case, your friend's insurance (assuming he has it) will kick in first. If your friend isn't insured, you should then be able to use your collision insurance to pay for the damages to your vehicle and your liability insurance to cover damage to the other vehicle. That having been said, insurance companies assume that a friend has permission to use your car unless there are clear indications that you denied permission.

Therefore, unless you can convince your insurer that you did not let your friend drive your car, it will balk at covering any claims. At this point, you may want to consult with an attorney in your area. After going over all of the details of your case, they can best advise you further.


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