One of the central tenets of American society is individualism – the belief that one is responsible for one’s own decisions and actions. Thus, when someone gets into a car wreck, it is only natural to assume that the driver who is responsible for causing the wreck should bear the burden of paying for any harm or damages he or she caused. In most cases, this is what happens: the driver whose careless or reckless behavior is primarily responsible for causing the wreck will be obligated to pay compensation to the other injured motorists (either through is or her insurance or out of his or her own pocket and resources).
Despite this, there may be several situations in which the owner of a car may be held partly to account for the damage done by another driver who uses the owner’s car.
Situations Where the Owner – and the Driver – Can Both be Held Responsible
Where a car owner acts in a careless or reckless manner, he or she may be able to be held responsible for a driver or passenger’s injuries and losses. This can include situations like:
- Failing to hide the keys from unauthorized drivers: If the car owner knows or ought to know that an unauthorized person – an elderly parent or young child – is taking the car out for joyrides, the car owner may need to take certain measures to help prevent the person or child from obtaining the car’s keys and control of the car.
- Failing to stop an intoxicated driver: Similarly, a car owner who knows or should know that an individual is intoxicated may be held partly responsible for the injuries the intoxicated driver causes if the owner knowingly allows the driver to take the car. This liability may also exist if the car owner is the one who serves alcoholic beverages to the intoxicated driver.
- Failing to keep the car in good operating condition: Finally, a car owner may be held partly responsible for the injuries resulting from a crash if the crash is due to the car’s condition (such as underinflated or worn tires or defective brakes) and the dangerous condition of the car was known – or should have been known – to the car owner.
What Does This Mean for Car Crash Victims in California?
California car crash victims ought to take steps to learn the identity of the owner of the car that is primarily responsible in the car crash, especially if the facts and circumstances of the crash suggest that the car’s owner (if different from the driver) somehow contributed to the crash. This is the best method for an injury victim to pursue full and fair compensation and hold all responsible parties accountable for their negligence and recklessness when such behavior leads to injuries and losses.
Case Barnett Law is an experienced and dedicated California personal injury law firm. Contact them at (949) 861-2990 or online through their website if you or a loved one have been injured in a car wreck.