Can I be held liable for an accident that I was not involved in?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be held liable for an accident that I was not involved in?

I lent my car to someone and they were involved in an accident caused by medication interactions. I had insurance on the car until the midnight right before the morning of the accident, I thought I had 2 weeks more before it expired. I was found not liable in a civil court case but the driver and I were sued by an insurance company without knowing about it. The driver involved in the accident declared bankruptcy and now they are coming after me now. Can this happen?

Asked on March 22, 2019 under Accident Law, Washington


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The owner of a car is responsible for any accidents that are caused by any driver who they let drive their vehicle. In other words, since the person who you lent your vehicle to was at-fault, you bear liability. Accordingly, you can be sued for the accident.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be be held liable. A car's owner is liable whenever anyone he or she allows to drive his or her car (i.e. someone who did not steal it) is at fault in an accident; you are responsible for the actions of your car's drivers. You allowed this person to use your car; if they were careless in anyway or otherwise at fault (such as by being careless with their medications, or in driving if they felt sleepy or impaired), you are as liable as they are, and the other party or their insurer can sue either or both of you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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