Who is responsible for an automobile, motorcycle, or trucking accident in Hickory, North Carolina? The driver? The owner? Both? The short answer is, it depends. Read more to find out how vehicle ownership can affect your personal injury claim.
You’ve had a great day eating lunch at Hickory Station, buying fresh produce at the Downtown Hickory Farmers Market, and walking around Union Square, but on the way home, you are rear-ended by a careless driver, and suddenly your dream day has turned into a nightmare.
The car that hit you is driven by a teenager driving his girlfriend’s parents’ car.
Who is responsible depends on several factors.
Generally, liability first follows the vehicle, not the driver. The first step in the evaluation is determining whether the driver was in lawful possession of the car. That means, did the teenage driver have a reasonable belief that he was allowed to drive the vehicle?
If he stole the car from his girlfriend’s parents, the answer is no. If a vehicle is stolen, the liability will not follow the car because that would not be fair to hold someone responsible for a third party’s criminal or negligent actions. This makes sense because if someone stole your car, even someone you knew, you wouldn’t want to be responsible for the damage that person caused.
However, if he had permission from his girlfriend’s parents, whether express or implied, then the parents’ automobile liability insurance will likely be responsible for the damage the boyfriend caused while operating their car. Essentially, they accepted the risk of allowing him to drive. There may even be a negligent entrustment claim if the boyfriend had a history of bad driving and the girlfriend’s parents allowed him to drive anyway.
Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, there may also be an “excess” claim against the boyfriend’s automobile liability carrier. Trying to navigate these insurance coverage issues and determine which policies apply is one of the many reasons you need an experienced car accident attorney like the ones at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, PC, to help you with your personal injury claim in Hickory, North Carolina.