What is the potential liability of someone who is listed as the primary driver and registered owner in the event of an accident?

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What is the potential liability of someone who is listed as the primary driver and registered owner in the event of an accident?

I was recently at my in-laws house and heard a conversation that concerned me greatly. My mother-in-law just found out that she is listed as the primary driver on her brother-in-laws insurance policy. Apparently, my father-in-law helped him set it up because his brother has trouble getting car insurance himself (accidents and DUI’s I believe). She was appalled but her husband says it isn’t a problem. She also hasn’t driven for over 30 years. I’m fairly certain the car is also registered in her name. Can she be sued if he gets into an accident? What should she do?

Asked on January 30, 2011 under Accident Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Your mother-in-law should have her name taken off of the auto insurance policy.  If she is listed as the registered owner of the vehicle, she will be held liable if her brother-in-law or someone else is at fault in an auto accident while driving "her" vehicle.

If there is an auto accident in which the brother-in-law is at fault, your mother-in-law's name will appear on the police report as the registered owner of the vehicle.  If the auto insurance policy limits are inadequate, it is possible that if there is a judgment against your mother-in-law as the registered owner of the vehicle, an injured party in the accident could go after her assets and those of her husband. 

 


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