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When it comes to car accident claims, negligence is the single most important factor that implicates a driver. If the person behind the wheel is negligent and does not use a reasonable amount of caution while driving the vehicle, he or she will be liable. The victim can sue them for compensation and claim damages for the injuries sustained in the mishap. However, things aren’t always as simple and straightforward as they appear. Many people are asking ‘Do I need a lawyer for a car accident?’
In some peculiar situations, the law may assign liability for an accident to someone not driving the vehicle. Surprisingly, someone who is not even present in the car when the accident occurred may be held liable for the mishap. So it becomes important to recognize such situations and understand how you can deal with them if you happen to be implicated. Let us explain some of these particular situations in detail.
An employee driving a company car
According to the law, the employer is responsible for the negligent driving of the employees while they operate a company car in the course of performing job duties. The employer is held liable under vicarious liability. Under this clause, the two parties involved in an accident have a certain relationship that lets the law hold one of them liable for the negligence or misconduct of another. A person injured in a car crash involving a company vehicle can sue the business and claim compensation for their injuries. It makes no difference that the employer had nothing to do with the mishap because they are responsible to ensure that employees operate vehicles safely when they are on the road during work hours. Right from hiring qualified drivers to providing them safety training and ensuring vehicle maintenance, they have a duty of care to fulfill.
Someone else driving your car causes an accident
In some states, owners are held legally responsible for accidents caused by negligent driving by someone using their car with their permission. There need not even be an employer-employee relationship between these two parties. Rather, you are on the hook for the actions of someone who is behind the wheel with your due permission, whether it is a friend, relative, or colleague. The victim can hire the city’s finest car accident lawyers and have you implicated even without any direct fault. So you must make sure that you let only trustworthy and qualified drivers operate your car or you may end up in big trouble with personal injury litigation.
Your kids cause a mishap while driving your car
Many states have norms that hold parents liable for the negligent driving of their children using the family car. If you let a minor child handle the vehicle knowing that they are incompetent, reckless, or inexperienced, you can expect to be implicated under the legal theory of negligent entrustment. Some states follow the family purpose doctrine, which holds the person who buys and maintains the family vehicle responsible for the negligence of any family member who causes an accident. You may even be held liable for your minor child’s negligent driving if you have signed their driver’s license application, depending on the laws of the state.
You let an unfit or incompetent driver use your car
Lending your car to an unfit or incompetent driver is extremely risky because you will have to pay for their recklessness in the event of a crash. Again, this is a case of negligent entrustment. If the plaintiff proves that you knew (or even should have known) that the driver was incompetent when you gave them permission to drive your vehicle, you will be responsible. When it comes to negligent entrustment, the following types of drivers come in the category:
- A person who is intoxicated and would drive under the influence
- A minor who is legally not permitted to drive
- An unlicensed driver
- An inexperienced driver
- An elderly or ill person whose driving abilities may be compromised
- A person with a history of reckless driving
Considering these situations, it becomes very important to be careful about handing over your vehicle to someone. Whether it is a child or an aged parent or even your best friend, you should not permit them to drive your vehicle unless you are very sure about their capabilities. Even minor negligence on their behalf can land you in big trouble and you may end up facing a lawsuit, even without being directly responsible for the mishap. Awareness is the key to steering clear of such nasty surprises.