You can be liable for an accident even if you were not the one driving the car. This most commonly occurs when you own the vehicle that was involved in an accident. Passengers can also be partially liable for car accidents as well.
While it is true that the people driving the car are usually the ones liable for an accident, this is not always the case. There are several situations where liability, when you are not even in the car, can occur, and, because these situations can be legally complicated, you should call a car wreck lawyer if any of the following circumstances apply to you.
Your employee was involved in an accident while doing work for you or while in the company vehicle.
As a rule, employers are liable for their employees’ wrongful acts. This includes situations where the employee is traveling on behalf of the employer or traveling in a company car. For example, if your employee runs a stop sign and hits another vehicle, your business is responsible for the damages involved.
You let someone else borrow your vehicle.
You may be legally responsible for anyone who drives your vehicle in a negligent, or careless, manner. In Massachusetts, the owner of the vehicle must have significant control over whoever borrows their car for liability to extend to them. Usually, this includes specifying where, when, and how the borrower will use the car. Allowing a friend to run errands with your vehicle is usually not enough control under Massachusetts law.
You allow your children to borrow your vehicle.
Parents are generally responsible for the actions of their children. This responsibility also assumes that the parents will control how and when a child uses a vehicle. Of course, because minors cannot be liable for personal injuries in most situations, the parent is liable on their behalf. A parent may also be separately liable for “negligent entrustment,” which means that they have let a child who is reckless or inexperienced drive their car. In most situations, however, the parent must have some reason to know that their child is reckless or irresponsible, usually based on past experiences.
Letting someone else who is unfit drive your vehicle.
Negligent entrustment also extends to other people apart from children. For example, if you knowingly loan your car to someone who is intoxicated, you may be liable if they are in an accident. This rationale also applies to underage drivers, someone who has an illness that affects their driving, elderly drivers, and unlicensed drivers. If you know there are some reason this person should not be driving, or you know that they cannot drive safely, you should not loan your car. It is for their safety, other drivers’ safety, and to reduce your potential liability.
Situations where you may be liable for other people’s driving can be complicated. Call a car wreck lawyer to determine what your legal options may be after an accident.