I Loaned My Car and The Driver Had an Accident, Am I Liable?

car acccident illustrated

You would not be the first person who loaned their vehicle to somebody and that vehicle was involved in a car accident. The question then is are you liable for the car accident? This will be the topic for discussion of this article.

Generally in car accidents the driver owns the vehicle, so issues of liability and insurance are pretty straightforward. However, in the event the vehicle has been loaned to somebody else who is at the wheel, how does this work out? For legal advice on your unique case contact a car accident attorney in Bakersfield.

Some common scenarios where a vehicle has been loaned and an accident happens include the following:

  • Your employee behind the wheel – while you may not be physically behind the wheel and your employee holds their own driver’s license, unfortunately, as the employer, the law may hold you responsible for any negligent driving that is committed by your employee while undertaking the employment duties at the time of the accident. However, if the accident occurred outside working hours while the employee was not on duty, liability is less likely to extend to the employer.
  • Someone borrowed your car – it is not illegal to loan someone your vehicle so long as you have given them permission to drive it. However, before turning over the keys it is important to know whether or not your car insurance covers them in the event of an accident. If the individual is a family member who regularly borrows your vehicle, you might want to add their name on your policy as a driver allowing them to claim from your insurance company in the event of an accident. If the individual is a friend in need who has their own vehicle and their own insurance coverage, in the event of an accident, you will need to read the fine print of both the policies as to which policy will be applicable. It is of the utmost importance to read the fine print of your policy to know whether or not your insurance coverage applies in any of these situations
  • Lending your vehicle to an incompetent or unfit driver – as noted by the term incompetent or unfit by giving permission to this individual and their negligent driving, if they have a car accident, the resultant injuries and damages will likely extend to you as the owner of the vehicle if you were negligent in your entrusting or lending your vehicle to someone you knew or should have known was unfit to drive. Such a case is referred to as negligent entrustment [Negligent Entrustment legal definition of Negligent Entrustment (thefreedictionary.com)]. However, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to prove that as the car owner you knew or should have known that the driver was incompetent or unfit at the time that you gave permission for him or her to drive your vehicle. Negligent entrustment is committed when you lend your vehicle to the following type of driver:
    • a drunk individual or an individual who is likely to become drunk
    • a minor under the legal age to drive
    • inexperienced drivers driving without supervision
    • an elderly individual who is unfit to drive due to their age
    • a person with a history of reckless driving

The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP is a full-service law firm serving Bakersfield, California and all of Kern County. Our firm is recognized as a leader in the community, and we offer and extensive and wide variety of legal services including, but not limited to water law, personal injury, business law, employment and labor law, estate planning, real estate, and much more. Please reach out today to talk to a member of our team.