If My Son Gets in an Accident With My Car, Can I Be Sued?
A viewer is concerned that his son, who has been taking the car without the viewer’s knowledge, may get into an accident. If this happens, is the viewer liable? Auto accident attorneys Greg Fellerman and Ed Ciarimboli assess the situation.
Dave Kuharchik: Time once again for “The Law & You.” We’re talking about taking something and liability for that. Attorneys Greg Fellerman and Ed Ciarimboli are here. They never take anything.
Ed Ciarimboli: Nothing.
Dave: They just give to us here.
Greg Fellerman: We’re givers.
Ed: Somebody took Greg’s smile.
Greg: It’s back. Come on.
Ed: We got it back.
Greg: I’m smiling a lot more.
Ed: We put his smile on the back of a milk carton and we found it.
Dave: It might be back out for the summer time. It’s dock season.
Dave: Question tonight, Tim from Kingston says, “If my son takes the car without me knowing and causes a crash, can I be sued?”
Ed: If you are the owner of the vehicle and there is not something very explicit in your insurance policy saying this particular driver cannot use the vehicle, then the answer is yes, as the owner of the vehicle. Now, the good news is even if he takes the car without your permission and causes a crash and hurts somebody, your insurance is going to cover that. But what you’re talking about is a situation where there’s a designation of a driver but a nonpermissive use driver, it doesn’t sound like your son falls into this particular category. But if he did, then there would be no insurance coverage for that particular crash.
Greg: And we see this all the time. What happens is someone has a car and get in a wreck and the owner will say, “I didn’t give permission.” Now they are not an excluded driver on the policy. It could be a friend, somehow they got the keys and they were able to drive the car. So we have to defend this all the time by saiyng, “Look, that is not really true.” Yes, the car should be covered. The insurance company is trying to deny insurance for the person that they hurt. And you as the owner, that doesn’t help because then you have personal liability. So you want coverage on your vehicle, you paid for it, you deserved it. And a lot of times these insurance companies try to weasel out of paying by using these nonpermissive policies. They cite nonpermissive user. Which, we usually find out, is nonsense. We say, “Did you ever call the police?” And they don’t. “Was the car stolen?”
Ed: Did you have access? Obviously, in order to drive the car, they didn’t steal your keys. If they stole your keys, you would have called the police.
Greg: We see it all the time.
Ed: They do it all the time and that defense usually does not hold up at all.
Greg: And you want to be protected. Owners pay for the coverage and you need the protection.
Dave: To stop the weaseling, give these guys a call. Check them out online. Results matter, attorneys Greg Fellerman and Ed Ciarimboli. See you next time, guys.
Greg: See ya.
Ed: You got it.