What is a car owner’s responsibility for an accident if the driver didn’t have permission to use the car?

UPDATED: Jul 2, 2014

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What is a car owner’s responsibility for an accident if the driver didn’t have permission to use the car?

I received a summons for myself and my boyfriend. He was in a car collision accident over a year ago. I am the owner of the vehicle and the only one insured on my car insurance; he was excluded on my policy therefore my insurance doesn’t cover any damages (to either my car or the other car). I’m lost and confused about how to remove myself from the case. I was not in the car at the time of the accident and I shouldn’t be responsible for the cost since I didn’t give permission for my boyfriend to drive the vehicle. Where should i go from here? This is my first time getting sued.

Asked on July 2, 2014 under Accident Law, California


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you can convincingly demonstrate that your friend drove your car without your knowledge and consent, then you should not be held liable for the damages. In such a case, your friend's insurance (assuming he has it) will kick in first. If your friend isn't insured, you should then be able to use your collision insurance to pay for the damages to your vehicle and your liability insurance to cover damage to the other vehicle. That having been said, insurance companies assume that a friend has permission to use your car unless there are clear indications that you denied permission.

Therefore, unless you can convince your insurer that you did not let your friend drive your car, it will balk at covering any claims. At this point, you may want to consult with an attorney in your area. After going over all of the details of your case, they can best advise you further.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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