IF MY CAR WAS STOLEN AND INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN SHOULD I BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES TO THE OTHER PERSONS CAR?

Asked almost 3 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

THE COPS TOLD ME TO TAKE MY INSURANCE INFORMATION BECAUSE I AM LIABLE EVEN THOUGH I WAS NOT THE ONE DRIVING THE CAR. IS THIS TRUE?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Jacob Adam Regar

    Contributor Level 16

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If a car was actually stolen by a thief and subsequently involved in a hit and run accident, the car owner would not be liable for the resulting damages.

    CA does hold vehicle owners responsible for damages caused by other drivers that are operating the owner's car with the owner's express or implied permission. Sometimes, implied permission may be found even when a vehicle owner believes no such permission was given to the wrongful operator. At the same time, permission may not be found even if the owner "carelessly leaves the keys in the ignition." Archer v. Sybert (1985) 167 CA3d 722.

    If, however, "special circumstances" exist, a vehicle owner may be liable for damages caused by a wrongful operator that used the car without the owner's permission. "The 'special circumstances' must be such as to create a duty to third persons in regard to the manner in which the vehicle is secured when not in use." Whether the vehicle owner breached their duty is a question of fact and would depend on whether the owner acted unreasonably in the face of a foreseeable risk. Ballard v. Uribe (1986) 41 C3d 564, Carrera v. Maurice J. Sopp & Son (2009) 177 CA4th 366.

    The "special circumstances" test may not even be met if a vehicle owner leaves their vehicle unattended on the street with the keys in the ignition. Richards v. Stanley (1954) 43 C2d 60, "'It is not equivalent to inviting or enticing an incompetent driver to tamper with a vehicle' and thus imposes on the car owner no duty to control the actions of a thief.'" Avis Rent A Car System, Inc. v. Super. Ct. (Koch) (1993) 12 CA4th 221.

    But, note, "special circumstances " may be found when an "ordinary vehicle is carelessly made available to children incompetent to drive. Richards v. Stanley, supra.

    This website contains general information about legal matters. The information provided by Jacob Regar is not... more
  2. Slavik Steve Leydiker

    Contributor Level 15

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . You would not be liable. If your car was in fact stolen and involved in an accident, you're insurance will not cover the damage. You could only be held responsible if you allowed the individual to drive you car. That being said, it seems that you're leaving a few pertinent facts out. Do the cops think you falsified the report so that you would not be held liable? If you reported your car stolen after the collision, this looks suspicious. If the cops recover your car three blocks away from your house with no signs of theft, that too looks suspicious.

    My comments are provided for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents,... more
  3. Joseph Duc Dang

    Contributor Level 7

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . No. Owner liability in Ccalifornia attaches when there is implied or actual permission to drive the car.

    Not your attorney. This is not legal advice.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

30,008 answers this week

3,425 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

30,008 answers this week

3,425 attorneys answering