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Am I responsible for an accident in my car when it was taken without my knowledge?

Palm Desert, CA |

My boyfriend borrowed my car without my knowledge. The car was not insured. He was in an accident with another driver. The facts tend to point to the other driver as being at fault, but it would be tough to prove fault to one party. The other driver's insurance company is coming after me. Can I be held responsible? How do I fight it? I attempted to contact a few attorneys, but it appears no one is interested because he was not injured in the accident.

Attorney Answers 7

  1. The issue is whether your boyfriend was a permissive user of your vehicle. This can be established in different ways, such as whether you and your boyfriend followed a custom or habit that allowed him to use the vehicle at his discretion; or whether he needed to obtain your expressed verbal consent to borrow the car. If you did not expressly or impliedly loan him the car or directly give him the keys, you would not be responsible. However, insurance companies typically try to take advantage of people, especially if they are not insured. You will need to hire a lawyer to help you out; or report it to your insurance company if you had coverage. Best of luck!

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  2. Unfortunately without insurance your options are limited and none of them are good. You can try to work out a deal and pay them, perhaps over time if you need to. You can fight them in court. You can declare bankruptcy. Probably your wisest choice would be to pay for a lawyer to do these things for you, since you might have viable legal defenses based on your boyfriend's use of your car without your consent. This might leave him liable, but at least you would have a clean record.

  3. If your boyfriend had his own insurance it should cover his usage of your vehicle. If not, unfortunately to get out of this mess without owing monies, you will need to go the route of reporting this as a vehicle theft. and this is not guaranteed to work either. So the boyfriend needs to man up and pay for the damages (although you are legal responsible up to $5,000 for property damage). Hire an attorney to work out a deal.

  4. Since you have no ins, you will not likely find an atty to help you unless you are able and willing to pay on an hourly basis to defend the claim. You could fight the other ins co, and if your boyfriend is not found at all negligent, the problem is gone. Unfortunately, it is hard to predict how much the fees and court costs etc will run you. It depends upon how far the other ins co pushes it. Cases aren't always 100% fault of one party. There is a chance the judge/jury could find both drivers at fault for example 50/50. If the other driver was 50% at fault, then he gets 50% of his damages. If you are trying to play it safest for you, you will also argue BF didn't have permission to use your car. (W/o examining all facts hard to say whether that will sell). If you take that position after your atty investigates, then BF will need his own atty if ins co sues. You cant have one atty represent both of you, if you are also going to argue BF didn't have permission.

  5. I agree with Attorney Vargas. Your options are limited by your lack of insurance. If you have a job maybe you can negotiate a repayment schedule. Just make sure you have someone write a contract for you that will spell out your rights vis a vis the collecting company. Best of luck.

    This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492. Abogado de Lesiones de Accidentes de Autos, provides answers of a general context. These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Oakland Abogado Accidentes Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Accidentes de carros, Abogado de accidentes de Peatones, practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, is licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.

  6. You could be potentially liable under the doctrine of negligent entrustment in the state of Texas If it is proven that your boyfriend was a reckless driver when or if you loaned the vehicle to him. The fact that you are claiming that on this occasion you did not lend the vehicle to him may not help you if they are able to show that he has a pattern of using your vehicle. If however it is the first time and you did not give him permission to drive, then they will have a difficult time finding you liable for that accident.