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Can the owner of a vehicle be sued if they were not in the accident?

Milwaukee, WI |

I was in away in basic training March '09 The accident happened in April. I left my car with a friend who was not suppose to drive it. At the time I only had insurance covering the vehicle it self. i've never recieved a notice subeona anything stating that i had the debt or that I was being sued I found out by running my credit report. I'm currently in the military residing in Georgia. I would like to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

What can I do?

Would i be better off paying off the debt than a lawyer?

Is there any way to get this removed from my credit?

Attorney Answers 4


I assume that your friend borrowed your car without your permission and was involved in a collision. Because the car was in your name the injured party filed a lawsuit against you (the owner) and the driver. If there is a judgment against you and you did NOT answer the lawsuit then the injured party probably moved for default judgment. In Wisconsin, when a party moves for a default judgment they must tell the court whether the defendant was in the military. The plaintiff must not have done a thorough job in looking to see if you were in the military. I'd recommend you speak with a JAG officer and maybe they can put you in touch with an attorney who can try to straighten this out for you. Otherwise, my firm would be happy to speak with you for a greatly discounted fee due to your service to our country.

You'll need to look at the documents that were filed with the court and see if the plaintiff's attorney followed the right procedure. Ultimately, you may need to file a Motion to Reopen the case.

Sending an email or posting a question does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney client privilege. The comments and opinions expressed in Jon Groth's comments are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Reading or using the information in this blog does not create the existence of an attorney-client privilege. Due to the changing nature of the law, the blog posts may contain dated material. For an update on the current law and the application of the law to your particular facts and circumstances, consult a legal advisor. The information contained herein is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed in your state.

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Contact your insurance company who is responsible for covering the damage from accidents with your car.

Licensed in Pennsylvania. Answers not intended as legal advice but for informational purposes only.

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1 comment

John K Lassen

John K Lassen


Philadelphia truck accident lawyer . . Philadelphia bus accident lawyer . . Philadelphia construction accident lawyer


If your car was involved in an accident where the driver was determined to be at fault and there was no insurance or adequate insurance, the other drivers or their insurance companies would have reported their losses to the Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles. Your driving privileges are probably also suspended as a result. This information would have been provided to credit reporting agencies by operation of statute and rules, regardless of whether any suit was ever filed. I agree with my colleague that you should seek the assistance of the military advocate from your branch of the service to sort this out. In general, you are jointly and severally liable with the driver for any damages / injuries caused by your car. There may be some military exclusion of which I am not aware but which the military lawyers would be aware of.

If this information has been helpful, please indicate by clicking the up icon. Legal Disclaimer: Mr. Candiano is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Indiana. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Links:

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I suspect the plaintiffs in the personal injury matter violated the servicemember relief act by falsely swearing you were not in the military but I don't know what your remedy would be. I think approaching a military attorney and then a civilian attorney back here in Wisconsin would be the wisest course of action. Good luck.

Please note the information provided does not constitute legal advice and no attorney/client relationship is created by any questions or answers or legal guides posted on Never make any important legal decisions without consulting an attorney.

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