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Who is responsible in an accident the driver or the owner of the car?

Washington, DC |

What happens if and 18 year old bought a car but never titled it registered it or had insurance on it and she let somone drive it while she herself was a passenger and that person got in an accident? IS the owner responsible even if car isnt titled or registered? Or is the driver held responsible? Can the owner of vehicle be sued even though she has not tiled or registration or was the one driving who caused accident?

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Attorney answers 4


In my opinion the driver can be sued if caused the accident. Depending on the law in DC the new owner if actually sold (Bill of sale etc.) can be sued even if failed to transfer title. However, I am a California attorney & not licensed in Washington, D>C. & not familiar with their laws - Consult a local accident attorney.

This is not intended to be legal advise or as legal representation. I am a California personal injury attorney . Be aware that every state has its own statute of limitations; and statutes & case laws that govern the handling of these matters.


State laws vary, but typically both


Depending on where the accident occurs, both the owner and the driver can be equally responsible. This 18-year-old has been extremely irresponsible. No one should own or operate any motor vehicle without maintaining adequate automobile liability insurance on the vehicle at all times.

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.


An owner of a motor vehicle in the District of Columbia is liable for the negligence of the operator of that vehicle if the owner consented to the use of the vehicle by the negligent driver on the date and time of the accident. Under D.C. Code, 40-408, proof of the ownership of a vehicle establishes prima facie evidence of consent by the owner to the use of the vehicle by the negligent driver. This statutory presumption, however, may be rebutted by evidence that the owner did not consent to the use and operation of the vehicle. The driver is also liable.

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