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When Are You Liable for Someone Else’s Driving?

Imagine you are sitting in your office at your pizza delivery business. A process server walks in and informs you that you are being sued for damages that a person, whom you have never heard of, claims were sustained in an auto accident that was your fault. You read over the complaint and realize that not only were you not the driver of the car allegedly involved in the accident, you were not even in the car.

liability for someone else's drivingWhat is going on? Can you be liable for a car accident that occurred when someone else was driving? The answer to that question is yes. You can be liable even if you were not in the car or anywhere near the car. This is called vicarious liability and applies to situations where there is such a relationship between the two parties that one can be held liable for the negligence of the other.

There are a number of situations where you can be liable for someone else’s driving. You may not even know an accident occurred until you are served with a lawsuit.

You Are Liable for an Employee Who Is Driving for Business Reasons

The pizza delivery scenario is a good example of how an employer can be liable for the negligent acts of an employee when the employee is acting on behalf of the business. Since the accident occurred while the driver was in the process of delivering a pizza, the owner of the pizza company is liable. If the delivery person had been drinking coffee at Starbucks during a break and hit someone in the Starbucks parking lot, the driver would not be driving in the course of performing job duties and the owner will not be liable.

Negligent Entrustment

This occurs when you loan your car to someone who you knew or should have known might be incompetent or careless. This includes scenarios like:

  • A parent loaning the family car to a minor who is incompetent or not licensed to drive.
  • Lending your car to someone who is drunk or who you have reason to believe may drink and drive.
  • Lending your car to someone you know is a careless or reckless driver.

If you were injured in a car accident and you believe the driver who was at fault was driving in the course of business, or for some other reason an owner of the car is vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver, contact us at Campbell & Associates. We are experienced car accident attorneys and offer you a free consultation. There are laws requiring you to file your claim for damages within a certain amount of time after the accident in which you sustained injuries, so call us as soon as possible.


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