When it comes to car accident law, one of the biggest misconceptions we hear in our office is that the driver behind the wheel who caused the accident is always at fault and ultimately responsible for related damages. Although this is often the case with simple, straightforward traffic accident cases, there are a large number of ways that other parties can be negligent. For example, a vehicle accident may have been caused in full or in part by:
- A trucking company or bus company.
- A car manufacturer or car part manufacturer.
- A mechanic.
- A municipality.
In some cases, you may even be responsible for a car accident and the related damages even if you are not driving your car and even if you are not physically present in your car. In this article, we will take a closer look at the specific circumstances in which you could be liable for another person’s driving mistakes.
Three Instances in Which You May Be Liable for Another Driver’s Accident in Your Car
In West Virginia, there are three major ways in which you may be held liable for damages when another person wrecks your car:
- When your employee crashes a company car. If your employee is on the clock and driving a company car for work, you could foot the bill if he or she causes an accident. This is true even if your employee acted negligently – such as by speeding, running a red light, or driving recklessly.
- When your child is driving the car. You could certainly be at fault for an accident if you allow your minor child to drive your car when he or she does not possess a license or permit to do so. You could also be liable for your child’s car accident if you sign off on your child’s driver’s license or learner’s permit application.
- When you let an unfit person drive your car. If you hand your car keys to an incompetent driver, and you are aware that that person is unfit to drive your vehicle, you could be held liable for any damage that that person causes. An unfit person could be a minor without a license, someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol, someone suffering from a mental illness, someone who does not know how to drive, or someone who has a known history of reckless driving.
It is important to note that you will not be liable for another person causing an accident or injury if someone uses your car without your permission or if someone steals your car.
When In Doubt About Car Accident Liability, Speak to a Lawyer
Understanding car accident liability can be difficult, and every car accident is different. The single best way to fully understand who might be liable after an accident involving you or your vehicle is to speak with a West Virginia car accident attorney about the details of your case.