Ifa persondrives someone else’s car without authorization and causes an accident, is the owner of the car liable?

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Ifa persondrives someone else’s car without authorization and causes an accident, is the owner of the car liable?

Asked on June 28, 2011 under Accident Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The owner is *probably* not liable if he or she truly did not authorize the usage--for example, the car was stolen; the valet parker or someone at a repair shop took it for an unauthorized spin; etc. However, if it was a member of the household iunder the owner's control (e.g. a teenage child), the owner would be liable; if it was someone to whom the owner had given a spare set of keys, but simply didn't have approval to drive it *that* time, the owner would almost certainly be liable; or potentially, if the owner was simply very negligent in securing his car (e.g. left it unlocked with the keys in it or motor running), the owner could be liable. It depends on the circumstances and whether the owner is in some way at fault or responsible for what happened.


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