You might be surprised to learn that you can be held responsible for accidents even if you were not behind the wheel at the time. If you allow another person to drive a vehicle that belongs to you, you are subject to a legal principle known as vicarious liability. Working with qualified Houston auto accidents lawyers can help you navigate the legal process more effectively after an accident. Here are some of the most common classes of drivers who may not be legally responsible for damages caused when driving a vehicle you own.
Employees in the Course of Assigned Duties
If your employee drives your company-owned vehicle during the course of his or her duties and is involved in a Houston car accident during working hours, your company will generally be held responsible for the damages caused by this accident. Accidents that occur outside working hours and during activities that are not related to the job duties of your employee, however, will typically be the responsibility of the driver.
Drivers Permitted to Operate Your Vehicle
If you allow someone else to drive your car through an oral, written or implied agreement, you may be taking on legal liability for any accidents that occur during the course of their journey.
- In the state of Texas, car insurance policies usually follow the vehicle, not the driver. This can lead to major increases in your insurance rates as well as the loss of your deductible.
- If the person you allow to borrow your car or truck has insurance of his or her own, that policy may also be used to cover any expenses not handled by your own insurance policy.
- If you knowingly allow your vehicle to be driven by a person who does not have a valid driver’s license, who is unfit to drive or who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may be liable for any costs not paid by your insurance company for damages or injuries caused in a Houston car accident.
- Minor children are usually covered under your car insurance policy as a matter of course. Making sure that your insurance company is aware of their driving status can help you avoid unpleasant surprises if an accident should occur while they are behind the wheel.
Showing discretion and good judgment when lending your vehicle can provide added protection against these issues.
If your vehicle is involved in an accident, consulting with an experienced Houston auto injury attorney can provide you with added help in dealing with your insurance company and ensuring that your legal rights are protected in and out of the courtroom setting.