Who is responsible if a car gets totaled by 1 person but there’s 2 people on the lien?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Who is responsible if a car gets totaled by 1 person but there’s 2 people on the lien?

A and B bought a car together. Both names are on the lien Person A got into a car accident that totaled the car, person B was not involved. There was no gap insurance so there was a balance

owed on the lien and it was never taken care of. Now, Person A made some calls to try and

minimize what is owed, successfully. Person A says Person B has to help pay person A with the debt or will be taking person B to small claims court? Can person A do that even though they were the only person involved in the accident that totaled the car?

Asked on December 2, 2017 under Accident Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, A can sue B on this, because this debt does not grow out of the accident--e.g. it is not from someone suing over property damage or personal injuries--but rather from the loan/financing agreement (what you call the "lien"), which is a contract which both of them signed. Both A and B obligated themselves equally to pay the amount owed on the lien, and thereforeA can insist that B contribute to the payment and sue B, under the loan agreement, if B does not.

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