What Happens If Someone Borrows Your Car & Gets In An Accident?

“What if someone borrows my car and gets in an accident?” A Chester County, Pennsylvania client asked us this question, wondering if the owner of a car is liable for injuries.

There is a common misconception that a person who lends a car to someone – who is later involved in a car accident – is automatically responsible for all the car accident injuries. This is not true. The lender of a car can only be held responsible if he or she did something careless. Lending a car to someone is not in and of itself deemed a careless act.

When Can The Owner Of A Borrowed Car Be Liable For An Accident?

There are however, situations where lending a car to another person could give rise to the owner of the car being held liable and responsible. This is known in the law as “Negligent Entrustment,” and applies to situations where the owner of the motor vehicle either knew or, when acting as a reasonable person, should have known that the person who was going to use the vehicle was not a safe driver. This could be because the driver was under age; did not have a driver’s license; never learned to drive; was intoxicated or suffered from a type of mental or physical handicap that rendered that person incapable of safe driving. If the car owner permits the other person to use the vehicle under those circumstances, then he or she could be responsible for all the damages that happened from the car accident.

Car Accident Negligent Entrustment Case

As car accident lawyers, we handled a “Negligent Entrustment” case resulting from a borrowed car accident on the Route 30 Bypass in Downingtown, PA several years ago. The owner of a high performance sports car, lent their car to a friend to “test it out”. The friend was visibly intoxicated, and took the borrowed car out on route 30 to race it. This car driver caused a collision injuring the person who became our personal injury client. It was clearly a case where the car owner as well as the driver who borrowed the car could be held jointly responsible for all the injuries caused to my client, the innocent person.

Be careful about letting people borrow your car who suffer from seizures, are drunk, over medicated or do not have the experience necessary to safely operate a vehicle. If you do, there could be considered negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle, and the liability for the car accident can be yours.

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