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Whom should we sue when owner was not driving the car which caused accident.

Tacoma, WA |

Owner was out of town at the time of accident and driver had access to owne'rs truck even though driver's driving lic. was suspended at the time of accident.

Now driver did not have insurance at the time of accident so who should we sue?
both driver and owner or just driver because owner is not liable?

My lawyer said 'there is no basis for liability for the owner. Only the driver is liable for accident. even though the owner's insurance is covering the loss'

If owner is not liable than why would his insurance company covering the loss...

I guess my lawyer made a mistake am I right?
if so...can we correct the mistake ...lawsuit is already filed.

Owner's insurance company has paid for my car's total loss and made an offer to settle the case.....also if we sue just the driver and not the owner....owner's insurance company will still protect the owner and try to settle the case?

Attorney Answers 7


  1. Your lawyer sounds very intelligent. Trust him/her. That's what you hired an attorney for. Good luck!

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below. DISCLAIMER: This information is for general information purposes only. Nothing stated above should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. Scott W. Edwards Attorney at Law Schauermann Thayer Jacobs & Staples 1700 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. Vancouver, WA 98661 PHONE: (360) 695-4244 FAX: (360) 696-0583 E-MAIL: ScottE@stjs.com


  2. Yes, it is entirely possible that the owner's insurance company will protect the owner and try to settle the case. There are some situtions where a plaintiff will want to sue both the driver and the owner, the latter possibly on negligent entrustment theory. In most instances, it probably suffices to just sue the driver. Even if only the driver is named as the defendant, the owner's policy may cover the negeligence of the driver. It sounds like that is the situation here. If that is the case, your lawyer made the correct decision. Good luck.

    This response is for information purpose only and does not constitute a legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.


  3. You might have a negligent entrustment claim against the owner. But the insurance coverage does not necessarily indicate a viable claim. If your lawyer was wrong it is easy to fix with an amended complaint. But, the owner may have no assets and moreover the recovery might not exceed what insurance can offer. And, I would hope your lawyer explored the viability of the claim against the owner before advising you. If you don't trust your lawyer, that is a bigger problem than who you should sue. If you don't trust your lawyer, find one you do. It won't work if you don't.


  4. You have a lawyer. Schedule a sit-down with your lawyer to discuss your concerns.


  5. Get a second opinion.

    The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between Howard Roitman, Esq. and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm or any individual attorney.


  6. Based on what you have said, it seems that your lawyer is correct. I suggest you have a face-to-face meeting with your attorney to review the circumstances of your accident and the allegations that have been made in your lawsuit. The owners insurance Company is covering the unlicensed driver because they apparently concede that the driver was operating with the explicit or implied consent of the owner and, therefore, is covered under the terms of the policy purchased by the owner. Speak with your attorney.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. 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. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.


  7. Usually the negligent driver, not the owner, is liable for the resulting damages and injuries. The only issue for the insurance company and coverage is whether the operator was a permissive driver (with the owners consent). If so, there is coverage. Some states have a cause of action for negligent entrustment of a vehicleby an owner to a person who is incompetent to drive or habitually reckless. Assuming the driver had no license, he is deemed incompetent to drive in some states and the reason for his loss of license may have been "habitually reckless behavior" i.e. speeding tickets, dwi, etc... Check your home state.