It happens. Someone needed a car. We let them use ours and next thing we know we get a phone call that they were in an accident while driving OUR car. Yikes. The situation gets worse when we find out that the person they hit is now pursuing an injury claim or property damage claim against our insurance policy. It’s likely going through your head, ‘Why my insurance? I wasn’t driving.’
While you weren’t driving, the claim is going against your insurance due to a law regarding owner liability under the permissive use statue in California. In California’s vehicle code 17150 there is a statue that allows injured people or the heirs of a person wrongfully killed in an accident to seek compensation from the owner of a vehicle. This law was prepared to help protect those who are injured or killed. This is a protection to the public and not meant to persecute vehicle owners. Think about it. Why is someone asking us to borrow our car in the first place? Is not because the person borrowing the car often has no car of their own? Since they have no car of their own, they most likely do not have auto insurance of their own. This statue allows the injured or slain victim to obtain at least a partial recovery for their losses through the owner of the vehicles insurance policy.
Another statue that allows people to pursue a claim against the owner’s insurance has to do with laws regarding negligent entrustment. What does this mean? If the owner of the vehicle allowed an unfit or incompetent person to drive the car, the law allows the injured person to pursue a claim against the owner of the vehicle. Why? The purpose of this statue is to hold vehicle owners responsible in several ways. It helps vehicle owners think twice before allowing that friend, relative or employee who has known addiction issues, alcohol issues, a bad driving record or violent temper get behind the wheel. This reduces accidents.
In regards to business owners, it helps them to take steps to make sure the people they employ to drive for their business demonstrate upon being hired that they are good drivers. It also helps business owners be responsible and remove employees with known addiction issues or bad driving records from being principal drivers for their company. It allows business owners to legally remove someone from their employ if they present a hazard to the public by their poor driving.
Additionally, these laws help parents of teenage children, recognize that teenagers are a known high risk group of drivers. It promotes responsibility by making sure that we add our teenage children to our insurance policies.
While the process can be frustrating, remember that these statues are not meant to persecute us. Additionally, most claims and lawsuits are not against us personally but against our insurance policy. However, we should keep in mind that punitive damages for which we personally can be held responsible can occur if we knowingly allow intoxicated people drive our car.
If you have been injured by a person who was not the owner of the car, you still have a right to pursue compensation. I’m Ed Smith, a wrongful death lawyer and personal injury attorney, specializing in helping Californians in my community get back to their lives after sustaining life altering injuries. I serve all the communities in Sacramento including North Highlands, Citrus Heights, Carmichael, Rancho Cordova, East Sacramento, Arden-Arcade, Natomas, Land Park, Laguna, etc. We also serve Placer county and their communities including Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln, El Dorado Hills, Colfax, Forest Hills, Loomis etc as well as Yolo County communities such as West Sacramento, Davis, Winters and Knights Landing.
If we are going to work together, I want you to learn more about me and my staff. You should feel confident that the lawyer you choose to represent you is someone you know can do a good job. I always ask that people see what my peers and other clients say about their experiences with my office which can be found on Yelp, Google, Facebook and Avvo.
Call me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 to discuss your matter.