There are certain instances in traffic law where you may be held responsible for the driving of another individual. In fact, these scenarios arise all the time, though you probably aren't aware that you are actually assuming liability for other drivers. Regardless of what you are aware of, there are very real consequences that may befall you in these instances and you need to be aware of exactly what responsibilities you are assuming. This article discusses some of the situations where another person's driving, and the damages that result from it, may ultimately fall on your shoulders.
Lending Out Your Vehicle
It doesn't seem like a terribly bad idea, but when you let other people drive your car you run the risk of retaining the liability for any damages or injuries they may cause. It varies by state, but for the most part, if you grant someone permission to drive your car, you automatically assume any and all liability for the driver's actions. However, if you never granted the individual permission to take the vehicle, than you may not be held liable for damages or injuries the driver caused.
The words 'may not' are used here because in those circumstances, it is often a matter of your word against the word of the driver. This is where having a car accident attorney present can help. They can assist you in proving that permission was or was not granted, whether you're the one who was driving the vehicle or you're the owner of the car facing potential liability.
If Your Vehicle Is Stolen
In most cases, if your vehicle is stolen you won't be held liable for any injuries or damage the thief ultimately causes. However, there are a few scenarios where you could find yourself responsible for paying the damages.
One situation where you might find yourself liable is if you somehow enabled or facilitated the vehicle's theft. For instance, if you left the keys in the car and the engine running while you ran into the supermarket to buy some groceries, then you could be held liable for damages and injuries caused by the individual who stole the vehicle. This law varies by state, and is ultimately at the discretion of the presiding judge.
Ultimately, a skilled accident attorney can ensure that your employees or acquaintances aren't fabricating your expression of permission if you never consented to lending your vehicle. Additionally, you may need an attorney's assistance if your vehicle was stolen while you momentarily stepped out, whether you were entering a department store or simply trying to help an injured pedestrian on the street.