What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets into an Accident?
California has a legal concept called “vicarious liability” that makes a car owner legally liable when they lend their vehicle to someone else, who gets into an accident. This legal doctrine surprises many people, who wrongly assume only the driver is to blame. Vicarious liability sometimes comes into play when California motorists are involved in car accidents, so it is important to learn about.
If you have been injured in a wreck, you might be able to hold both the driver and the car owner responsible. Contact a Los Angeles car accident attorney for more information.
HOW DOES LEGAL LIABILITY WORK IN THIS SITUATION?
California has laws on the books that hold parents legally responsible when their children are involved in car accidents. For example, California Vehicle Code Section 17707 says that any person who signed and verified a minor’s driver’s license application is liable for any accident the minor gets in. Under the law, a parent or legal guardian signs and verifies an application, so they are responsible.
However, vicarious liability extends well beyond the parent-child relationship. Any time a car owner lets someone else borrow his or her vehicle, the car owner can be liable when the driver causes a crash. If the driver is not at fault, then the car owner obviously has no legal liability.
WHAT INSURANCE COVERS THE ACCIDENT?
Car insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. So, if you bought insurance for yourself, then it should cover the accident if you let someone borrow your car. Sometimes, whether insurance covers an accident isn’t always clear, depending on your relationship with the driver, so meet with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to discuss.
Your liability insurance will not kick in if the person who borrowed your car did not cause the accident. Instead, the driver who is to blame should cover the costs of medical care and lost wages. The at-fault driver should also pay to have your car repaired after the accident. Sometimes, there is a dispute about fault, so you should better understand your legal rights.
California also has a comparative fault, which means both motorists can contribute to an accident, although maybe not equally. For example, the person driving your car might have made a turn without using a turn signal, but the other driver was speeding through an intersection when he struck your car. In this example, both drivers share some responsibility for the accident, although liability is probably not 50/50. Comparative fault can impact how much compensation a person receives, including the car owner who wants a car repaired.
CONFUSED? CONTACT A LOS ANGELES CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER TODAY
If you lent a car to someone, or if you were injured in a crash by someone who borrowed a car, then you should meet with an attorney. At El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers, our team has handled some of the most complicated car accident cases in the Los Angeles area. Reach out to us today to schedule a free consultation. We will be happy to take a look at your dispute.
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