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Can You Be Liable for a Car Accident When You Weren’t Driving the Car?

Liability for the Driving of Third Parties

Car AccidentIn the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, the first thing you typically look at is fault. Who caused the accident and how did it happen? Often, it’s exclusively the fault of one of the drivers. But there are situations where third parties can be found responsible for injuries suffered in a car crash. Let’s look at a couple situations:

When Employees Cause Auto Accidents

If a worker or employee causes a motor vehicle accident while performing duties related to his or her job, the employer may have some liability under a legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior.” It’s based on the legal principle of agency—the employer is considered a principal and the employee an agent. It’s important, however, to understand that the actions the employee was engaged in must be within the scope of the agency. If, for example, the employee was engaged in a wholly personal activity…on his way to or from lunch or headed out to run some errands, there may not be liability. In addition, if the employee’s behavior is egregious—he was drinking and driving on the job (unbeknownst to the employer), the employer may also escape responsibility.

Allowing a Third Party to Drive Your Car

In some states, merely allowing someone else to drive your car can make you liable for any injuries they cause. There’s no requirement of employment—liability is implied.

Under a legal theory of “negligent entrustment,” if you know that another driver is careless, incompetent or unfit to drive, and you allow that person to take your car, you can be held responsible. The doctrine of negligent entrustment can also be applied if your children cause an accident. However, you must know that your child lacks the requisite skills or care to be on the road.

You can also be held responsible for the negligent driving of your children under the “family purpose” rule. This principle holds that when you send any member out to do something for the family—get groceries, wash the car, etc.—you can be held liable for their negligence.

Contact Attorney David J. Karbasian

Contact our office online or call us at 856-667-4666 to schedule an appointment. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation. The sooner you call, the sooner you can move forward with your claim. We can accommodate evening or weekend meeting requests and will come to your home, if necessary.

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