Do I have an injury claim against an owner of a vehicle that hit me if the driver wasn’t the owner? A personal injury claim is generally made against the person who was at fault for the injury—the driver of the car that caused the accident.

So here’s the answer:
The car owner loaned his vehicle to a friend who negligently injured someone. This falls under California’s “permissive use statute,” where the owner’s liability is based on the driver’s negligence and not on the owner’s own negligence. In order to impose liability on the owner, the victim must prove all of the following:

1) The driver was negligent in operating the vehicle;
2) The accused owner was, in fact, the owner of the vehicle at the time of the accident;
3) The owner, by words or conduct, gave permission to the driver to use the vehicle.

In order to determine the owner’s “expressed” or “implied” permission under this statute, the judge or jury can
certainly consider the relationship between the owner and driver. It would certainly appear most likely that
permission was granted if the owner and driver were married, close friends, or had an employee/employer
relationship. So, it could reasonably be concluded that permission was granted even if the owner denies it.

Under these circumstances, the owner is financially liable for no more than $15,000 for an individual’s injury or death and no more than $30,000 for all victims’ injuries or deaths in an accident. The owner’s liability for property damage is also capped at $5,000.

Should the insurance policy not be enough to cover all the accident victim’s injuries, the victim can pursue an
underinsured motorist claim against his/her own insurance policy.

Negligent entrustment happens when the owner of the car negligently gives permission to an incompetent
person to drive the vehicle
. A claim can be made against the owner who entrusts a vehicle to a person who is incompetent to drive and that incompetence leads to injuries to the victim. To establish this claim, the injured victim must prove the following:

1) The driver was negligent in operating the vehicle;
2) That the vehicle owner gave up possession of the vehicle operated by the non-owner driver;
3) That the vehicle owner knew, or should have known, that the driver was incompetent to drive the vehicle;
4) That the vehicle owner permitted the driver to drive the vehicle;
5) That the driver’s incompetence to drive was a substantial factor in causing harm to the victim.

General liability policies do not offer coverage for incidents of negligent entrustment. Although business auto
policies do not exclude negligent entrustment, coverage may not be sufficient if an employee is involved in a
harmful accident.

The driver of the car did not have permission to drive the owner’s car. Under these circumstances, liability insurance for the vehicle will not cover a non-owner driver.

It is always smart to consult with an experienced injury attorney soon after an injury and before speaking with the insurance companies. The best injury attorneys will find all potential applicable insurance to cover the accident.

Contact us for a free case consultation today.

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