Vehicle Owner Liability in a Collision

A red car shows significant damage after a collisionAfter a vehicle accident in which the driver of the car was not the owner, the owner of the vehicle may assume that the driver will be held responsible for any damages. However, this isn’t necessarily the case. If an employee is driving a company vehicle, or a child is driving his parent’s car, or the vehicle owner lends his car to someone who is obviously irresponsible, the owner may have liability.

Company Vehicle Owner Liability

Employers may be held responsible for the negligent behavior of their employees when it occurs during the course of their employment. If an employee is driving a company car and causes an accident, his employer may be liable. Therefore, a lawsuit stemming from a vehicle accident caused by an employee while he is working will often include his employer as a defendant.

Family Vehicle Owner Liability

Alaska adheres to the family purpose doctrine. This means that the owner of a vehicle purchased and maintained for the use of his family is responsible for any injuries or damage caused by the use of that car by a family member.

Furthermore, under Alaska Statute 28.15.071, the parent or guardian who signs a minor’s driver’s license application is liable for that minor’s negligence or willful misconduct while driving.

Borrowed Vehicle Owner Liability

Under the theory of negligent entrustment, a vehicle owner may be liable for any resulting damages if he lends his car to an irresponsible driver. This requires the victim to prove that the owner knew, or should have known, that the driver was unfit to drive at the time the vehicle was borrowed. A driver may be unfit if he is:

  • Inexperienced. Allowing an inexperienced driver to operate a vehicle unsupervised may be considered negligent entrustment.
  • Unlicensed. Lending a vehicle to an unlicensed driver may lead to the owner being held liable for damages.
  • Intoxicated. If the vehicle owner lends his car to someone who is already drunk, or who is likely to become intoxicated, he may be guilty of negligent entrustment.

You Need an Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a collision, you may be entitled to collect damages from the vehicle owner. To learn more, contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden, P.C., by using the form on this page.