If my father is in an accident and is sued, how liable am I?

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If my father is in an accident and is sued, how liable am I?

We live in Pennsylvania. My father is 90 years old. My husband and I are
joint owners on his checking account simply to help him if he needs it – we
never take money or put in any money. He has no other assets real estate,
cash, stocks, etc. The balance in that checking account never exceeds his
monthly social security payment of around 1000. If he is in an accident
sole occupant and driver of car and gets sued, I know that this joint
checking account would be considered his asset and could be seized in any
award made. However, could the person suing also sue us and try to seize my
husband and my assets property, stocks, cash even though my father is NOT
listed on any of these assets or accounts?

Asked on August 1, 2018 under Accident Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you are not personally liable (and so your personal assets are not at risk) for your father's accident, even if you are on the checking account--as you note, that account could be taken by a creditor or someone suing him, so if you were to put your own money into it, that money could be vulnerable, but as long as you keep your assets separate from his, you are safe. You would only be liable for his accident if:
1) He was driving your vehicle--a car's owner is responsible for when people whom he/she lets drive have an accident.
2) You in some way contributed to or caused the accident--if you were in the car with him, it is *possible* (but not particularly likely) that if it could be shown that you distracted or jostled him, causing the accident, that could potentially result in liability.
3) If he is declared legally incompetent, you become his legal guardian(s), and as guardians, fail to supervise him and let an incompetent person drive.


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