When are you Liable for another Person’s Driving?



One of the key issues in a car accident is determining which driver is at fault or negligent.  In some situations, the law can assign fault to someone who was not driving or even present in the car at the time of the accident.  Below are the instances where this can occur.

When an employee drives the car.  Employers are responsible for wrongful acts, including negligent driving, while the employee is performing job duties.

When you let an incompetent or unfit driver use your car.  When you lend your car to someone who is reckless, incompetent or an unfit driver, and they cause and accident, you are liable for injuries and damage resulting from the accident.  This act is called negligent entrustment, where the plaintiff must prove that the car owner knew, or should have known, that the driver was incompetent at the time permission was given.

How do you know if someone is incompetent, reckless or unfit to drive?  If they are…

  • Intoxicated
  • Unlicensed or underage
  • Inexperienced
  • Elderly
  • Suffering from an illness
  • Previously reckless driver

When your kids drive the car.  Parents can be liable for their child’s negligent driving if they are using the family car.  Below are two laws this can happen under.

  • Negligent entrustment. If a parent knows their child is incompetent, reckless, inexperienced or unlicensed then the parent may be liable for damages caused by the child’s driving.
  • The family purpose doctrine.  If someone purchases and maintains a car for general family use, the owner is liable for negligent driving by any family member using the vehicle.

Always be cautious when lending your car to another person.  Make sure you and them understand what can happen in the result of an accident while using another person’s car before you are in a sticky situation.