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Being Sued

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I'm being sued for 5 million dollars for an accident in which my father had while he was driving my car. Can I be liable for over my policies limits even though I wasn't in the car?


Senior Member
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial, Helvetica, Verdana">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Wallst:
I'm being sued for 5 million dollars for an accident in which my father had while he was driving my car. Can I be liable for over my policies limits even though I wasn't in the car?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My response:

Since you failed to tell us what State the accident occurred in, or what State the car is garaged in, I'm using California law and it's anybody's guess if it's applicable to you. There are 50 States in this Union, all with differing laws.

Short answer: Yes. It makes no difference whether you were in the car; only that you let your Dad, as a permissive user, drive your car.

Coverage for the permissive-use driver under the owner's policy may not necessarily be as high as that provided the owner (named insured): The policy may validly limit permissive user coverage to the minimum amounts required by the Financial Responsibility Law (i.e., $15,000/$30,000/$5,000; see Ca Vehicle § 16056). [Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Haynes (1990) 218 Cal.App.3d 737, 267 Cal.Rptr. 248--despite owner's $100,000 coverage, insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify permissive user for damages exceeding $15,000 where policy specified additional insured coverage "up to the limits of the Financial Responsibility Law only"; Hartford Cas. Ins. Co. v. Mid-Century Ins. Co. (1994) 26 Cal.App.4th 1783, 1787, 32 Cal.Rptr.2d 351, 353]

Now, this is all assuming you can be found negligent under the theory of "Negligent Entrustment" e.g., that you gave your car to your Dad to use, despite the fact he had some legal or physical infermity causing him to be a negligent driver, and that you knew about such problem before you lent your car to your Dad.

If he had no such infermity, then you cannot be found negligent, and the injured person will only be able to get a judgment for $15,000.00 - per person, up to a max of $30,000.00 for all occupants. Then, the other driver will have to make a claim under his/her "Underinsured Motorist Coverage" if it's available, and if so, if it meets the proper criteria for such claim.

If you were not negligent in giving your Dad your car to use, you should be alright in terms of monetary responsibility to the injured parties.


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[This message has been edited by I AM ALWAYS LIABLE (edited April 22, 2000).]

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