Who is liable: the driver or the owner of the car for an accident in which there isn't enough insurance coverage?

A car is under my name as the owner. I don't have insurance for the car because my relative is the one driving it. We do not live in the same address. If I lend my relative the car(the car is under my name) and that relative got into accident. The relative insurance doesn't cover the full damages, can the other parties come after my asset?

Los Angeles, CA -

Attorney Answers (6)

Janice Rourke Hugener

Janice Rourke Hugener

Business Attorney - San Francisco, CA
Answered

Not to be a contrarian, but under California's mandatory financial responsibility laws the owner of the car must maintain insurance regardless of whether the driver is insurer. See, http://www.dmv.ca.gov/dl/driversafety/fr_guide.htm .

Thus, if your driver gets into an accident and the damages sustained exceed the amount of his insurance, yes, the other parties can come after your assets if you are uninsured. Get insurance.

This response is general legal and business analysis and not legal advice; thus, other attorneys may analyze this... more
Martin W. Judnich

Martin W. Judnich

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Missoula, MT
Answered

No, just because you own the car does not make you liable for the negligence of another, unless there are some crazy circumstances. However, owning a car without insurance is not smart on your part. Just insure the thing, so if someone else hits it or you decide to drive it, you have yourself covered.

licensed attorney in Montana. Your specific state laws may be different.
Frank Marvin Nunes

Frank Marvin Nunes

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Fresno, CA
Answered

It sounds like you are looking at this from a prevenative perspective rather than a repairative one. If you are going to go through with this then you should get insurance eiter through your own policy, which is the best, or have your relative name you as an additional named insured on teh on the relative's policy if their insurance agent or company will let you do so.

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Austin J Freeley

Austin J Freeley

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Boston, MA
Answered

Get insurance and everyone will be covered in the event of an accident. I don't know if car insurance is mandatory in your state, but if it is, you could be charged with not having insurance. While you can't be responsible for your cousin's negligence, you could potentially be involved in a legal inquiry, which you don't need to deal with.

Steven Mark Sweat

Steven Mark Sweat

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Los Angeles, CA
Answered

Yes. Both the registered owner and the driver face potential liability for any accident involving the registered owner's vehicle driven by the driver. There may be certain exceptions to this but, this would be the general rule.

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Melissa F. Mack

Melissa F. Mack

Car / Auto Accident Lawyer - Alameda, CA
Answered

Absolutely. Insurance follows the VEHICLE, not the person. In this case, if your insured relative causes an accident and creates liability, the injured party will go after the vehicle owner's insurance as PRIMARY coverage. The driver's insurance would be secondary, or excess, coverage.
Bottom line: you need to insure the vehicle, as you are exposing yourself in the event of liability.
I have years of accident injury experince and am well versed in insurance law. Please protect yourself and obtain at least a state minimum liability policy, although I recommend a higher policy.

Best!

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