My son in law was given our car to use in New Mexico. We live in Colorado. He was involved in an accident in which he was at fault. The woman in other vehicle sustained physical injury and is claiming that her injuries may exceed the limits of our policy. 25000. Can we be held personally liable for these claims and what might this look like?
Depending on the amount of damages over the policy that is what you may be held liable for. Confirm with counsel who will be assigned by your insurer or local counsel.
Yes, if the proven damages exceed the policy limit, a plaintiff can hold the driver/owner sue personally sue defendants in an effort to be made whole.
The author of this answer is an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of Arizona. Unless both you and the author have signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not the author's client, and the author's discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and are neither privileged nor confidential.
In general, under Colorado law, you are not responsible for the damages caused by your son-in-law's negligence. New Mexico law may be different and may apply. Your son-in-law can certainly be held responsible for the excess damages. Your insurance policy will provide a defense/ attorney for him and cover any damages up to the policy limits. You and your son in law may want to retain separate counsel to encourage the insurance company to settle the claim. If damages are extreme, your son in law may want to consider Bankruptcy.
John H. Barrett
Any at fault driver is responsible for all damages whether it exceeds your policy limits or not. The insurance will pay nothing without a full and final waiver of all liability to you.
Most of the comments below, are probably wrong. At least in Colorado, and I expect the same is true in New Mexico, an owner of a car is not liable personally for the negligence of a driver who causes an accident. There are exceptions, such as if you knew or had reason to know that the person whom you gave the car to was a bad driver. There are some other exceptions, but you are probably not liable for damages over the amount of your policy. You may want to contact the insurance company attorney representing your son, if one has been assigned.
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