Legal Principles Applied to Non-Owner Car Accidents


In most cases, the party driving the car involved in a car accident is the owner of that car. But, sometimes, the driver responsible for the car accident is not the actual owner of the car. In this case, determining whose insurance policy is responsible for covering the damages can be difficult. This is because every car crash is unique, and the cost of injuries and damages depends greatly on the specifications of the crash and policies involved.

In most car accident cases, the negligent driver who caused the car accident is held liable for the injuries and damages. But, there are situations that the law can attribute fault to the owner of the car. Our car accident lawyer in Pennsylvania lists the legal principles that can be applied to car accident cases that are caused by a non-owner of the vehicle.

Entrusting Your Vehicle to a Negligent Driver

Negligent entrustment makes you liable to pay for the damages and injuries caused in the accident because you have assigned your vehicle to someone unfit to drive. They might have been under the influence of alcohol, unlicensed, inexperienced behind the wheel, have decreased eyesight, or have a history of reckless driving.

Family Car Doctrine

Family car doctrine is similar to negligent entrustment because it involves letting someone who is unfit to drive your car. For example, parents allow their kids to drive their car, and if they cause the accident, the parents are liable to pay for the damages. This liability depends on different factors such as,

  • Who paid for the car
  • The name on the title
  • The intent of the parents and minors
  • Who controlled the use of the vehicle

Low Maintenance of the Vehicle

A vehicle that is not well-maintained poses safety risks to the person driving the car. As a vehicle owner, you must keep your car well-maintained to minimize the safety risks and keep your car and the one who drives it safe. You will be liable to injuries and damages caused if you fail to maintain it properly.

Employer Liability

If the car accident is caused by the driver driving your commercial vehicle, as an employer, you are responsible for your employee’s negligence. In this case, you are responsible for paying for the damages caused by your employee.

In certain jurisdictions, the person who signs the minor’s driver license application is also liable for the damages caused by the car accident. Most states allow the victim to file a lawsuit against the driver and the owner to get the compensation they need. So, talk to your Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers to clarify whether you fall into any of the above categories if your vehicle has been involved in a car accident.