You can be liable for another person’s driving in a car accident in a variety of different driving scenarios.
Typically, if there was a negligent driver involved in an accident, they are liable for expenses related to the accident they caused. Unfortunately though, sometimes someone else’s horribly negligent driving can cause an accident where they do not get assigned the blame for causing it.
Some people may be asking this question because they have heard that even if the person in front of them was the worst driver they’ve ever witnessed, if that driver stopped for no reason and was rear-ended, unfortunately, if that driver was you- you may be liable for the accident that was caused by someone else’s horrible driving.
Although there have been a few exceptions to this rule, typically, rear-end accidents are blamed on the driver who drove into the car in front of them. When there are more than two cars involved in a rear-end accident, blame is often placed on all of the cars that hit another car. Even if your car was sitting at a stand-still at a reasonable distance behind the car in front of you and your car was pushed into the car ahead of you because of the impact of a car hitting you from behind, you may be found as one of the at-fault parties in this accident.
There are other scenarios where an unfair amount of blame may be put on a driver because of the driver’s position in the accident. For example, when accidents occur that involve a driver making a left hand turn, unless there is significant evidence to the contrary, the blame is often placed on the driver making a left hand turn. Even though the accident may have been caused by an oncoming driver drifting over into your lane before you even begin your turn, unless you are able to prove this without a doubt, you may be blamed simply because you were in the left-hand turn position.
Another situation where you may be liable for another person’s driving is when you loan someone your car. Whether you were in your car or not, if someone that you loaned your car to gets in an accident that was caused by their negligence, there is a good chance that your insurance company is going to be the one that pays for the damages they caused. As well, you may be responsible for your deductible before the insurance company is willing to pay out what you now owe. As unfair as it may feel, your premiums may go up too, even if you yourself have a spotless driving record. Even though there are exceptions to this, typically, cars are insured rather than a driver being insured.
If you are in the unfortunate situation of being named as liable for another person’s driving in an accident, it may be in your best interest to discuss what your rights are with an people who are licensed to provide legal advice in the state where your accident occurred.
For more information on legal questions and answers like these and more, visit the Law Education Center.