Are Car Owners Liable for the Accidents and Injuries Caused by Persons Who Borrow Their Car?

When you or a loved one has been injured by a motorist in a car accident, you may want to hold someone liable for your injuries.  In New York, whether in Hudson, Green, Rensselaer, Columbia, or Albany County, or elsewhere in the Hudson Valley, it will be important for you to know not only who was driving the vehicle, but equally important is who owns the vehicle. 

It is important for you to know that many people like you are injured when other motorists fail to obey traffic laws.  This makes it much harder for you to safely negotiate your daily chores such as driving to work, going to the market, and picking up the kids from day care. 

It is common for vehicle owners to loan their car to others.  Their child, friend, significant other, employee, or anyone else, may have been given the authority to use the car. 

Hudson car accident attorneys know that the driver and/or the owner may be liable for your injuries.  The permissive use doctrine, as written into law via New York Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 388, states, “every owner of a vehicle used or operated in this state shall be liable and responsible for death or injuries to person or property resulting from negligence in the use or operation of such vehicle . . . by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of such owner.”

In short, car owners are liable to injured parties for injuries caused by the persons to whom the owner loaned his or her car.  It isn’t necessary that the owner expressly give the person permission.  Consent to use the vehicle may be implied, such as when someone routinely uses another person’s car.  To put it another way, the driver is presumed to have received permission to use the vehicle, and the owner is charged with the obligation to prove otherwise.  This rule encourages owners to be cautious in determining who will be allowed to borrow their car. 

Defining what express and implied permission means is left to the court and/or the jury.  Obviously, express permission is exactly what it sounds to be; the owner said that the other person could use the car.  Implied permission is a bit harder to determine.  While permission is presumed in New York, the owner will attempt to show that he or she never gave the operator permission to use the car.  So, implied permission can become contentious.  For example, is leaving your keys out for anyone to access a form of implied permission?  If the owner does nothing to prevent others from using the car, is this a form of implied permission?  Your experienced Hudson attorney will know the difference.

Negotiating the nuances of the permissive use doctrine is something that you should not feel compelled to do on your own.  You need to know and trust a Hudson car accident attorney who can settle these complications for you. 

The attorneys at Greenberg and Greenberg handle car accident cases throughout New York State, including Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, and Albany County.  Our legal team has earned a reputation for dedicated service to our clients injured in New York personal injury accidents.  Please contact us today to receive a free case evaluation by dialing locally to 518-828-3336 or call toll free at 877-469-9300.