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Do I have an injury claim against the owner of the vehicle that hit me, if the owner was not the driver?

Short answer is maybe. A claim for personal injury generally is made against the person who was at-fault for the injury; the negligent party. In an auto accident, the negligent person is the driver of the car that caused the accident. If the owner was not driving, the owner is usually immune from liability. The good news is that as long as the driver had the owner's permission to drive the vehicle, the owner's auto liability insurance will cover the claim for injuries.

There are, however, some cases where the liability insurance for a vehicle will not cover a non-owner driver. Examples may include cases where the driver did not have permission to drive the car or the driver did not have a valid driver's license. When an insurance company fails to cover a non-owner driver, it is important determine if negligent entrustment is a potential cause of action.

Negligent entrustment happens when the owner of the car negligently gives permission to an incompetent person to drive the vehicle. When this occurs, the owner is responsible for injuries caused even when the owner was not driving. Good examples of an incompetent driver include persons who are younger than the legal driving age or who are intoxicated to operate the car. However, the law typically does not permit negligent entrustment claims if the driver merely had isolated prior traffic citations, e.g. speeding, This is probably not enough to prove negligent entrustment.

It is always smart to consult with an experienced injury attorney soon after an injury and before speaking with insurance agents. The best injury lawyers will find all potential applicable insurance to cover the harms and losses caused by a serious car crash.

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Rittgers & Rittgers, Attorneys at Law

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