Baltimore car accident lawyers

Is the Driver at Fault for an Accident in Maryland or the Owner of the Car?

Figuring out who is to blame for a car crash is rarely easy. Drivers tend to point fingers at each other, and evidence is not always easy to find. In some cases, vehicle owners might be held responsible even if they were not present for the accident.

Usually, the driver of a vehicle in an accident is held responsible for the crash. However, there are circumstances that might indicate the vehicle owner is also responsible even though they were not involved in the crash. This is a common issue in cases where a negligent driver was operating a borrowed vehicle. A vehicle owner might be responsible if they loaned their car to someone they knew was unlicensed or intoxicated. This is often referred to as negligent entrustment. This is often an important consideration when determining whose insurance will cover the accident. If the vehicle owner is somehow legally responsible for the accident, their insurance might have to pay for damages.

Call (410) 694-7291 and speak to our Maryland car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras for a free case evaluation.

Is the Owner or Driver of a Vehicle Responsible for a Car Collision in Maryland?

While we often blame negligent drivers for accidents, drivers do not always own the vehicle involved in the crash. Many accidents involve cars that have been borrowed from friends or owned by an employer. Sometimes, the vehicle’s owner might be held vicariously liable for an accident.

When the Driver is at Fault

In most cases, a negligent driver may be deemed at fault for an accident. Even if the driver does not own the vehicle they were driving, they are often still held responsible. Drivers may be held liable for accidents if they are found to have acted negligently.

Negligence is a legal concept that is comprised of four crucial elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. Duty is the legal obligation of the driver to drive with reasonable safety under the circumstances and obey traffic laws. The breach is whatever the driver did to violate their duty of care. Causation is the connection between the breach and the accident. In short, the breach must be the direct cause of the crash. Finally, the accident must have resulted in real damages.

Negligence does not require proof of vehicle ownership. Whether someone is driving a borrowed car, a stolen car, or a car that their boss owns, they might be held responsible for a crash if their negligent driving caused it.

When the Owner is at Fault

In some cases, the owner of a vehicle involved in a crash might be held responsible even though they were not physically present for the accident. This often happens when a vehicle owner lends their vehicle to someone they know should not be driving. It also happens when the negligent driver is the employee of the vehicle’s owner. Our Baltimore car accident lawyers can help you sue one or both parties to make sure you get all the compensation you deserve.

If the vehicle’s owner loaned their car to a friend they knew should not be driving, the vehicle owner might be vicariously liable for the accident. For example, if a vehicle owner lends their car to a friend they know is unlicensed, the vehicle’s owner may be held legally responsible. This is a form of negligent entrustment. It is negligent because the vehicle owner knew or should have known that allowing the driver to use their vehicle would be dangerous, but they did it anyway.

Another possibility is that the vehicle’s owner is the driver’s employer. This is common in accidents involving delivery vehicles, taxis, or buses. For example, if you are involved in an accident with a delivery van, the delivery driver might be held liable, and their employer might be vicariously liable because they are responsible for the injuries inflicted by their negligent employee.

Is the Vehicle Owner or Driver Responsible for a Drunk Driving Accident in Maryland?

The issue of whether the driver or owner of a vehicle involved in a crash should be held responsible also arises frequently in drunk driving cases. Again, various factors surrounding the accident determine who can be held responsible. If you or your vehicle was involved in a DUI accident, contact an attorney immediately.

If the driver was already intoxicated or known to drive drunk when the owner lent them their vehicle, the driver and owner might share liability. The driver should be held responsible because they were the one driving while under the influence. If the vehicle owner loaned the drunk driver their car, knowing the driver was intoxicated or was going to get intoxicated, they may also be held liable. This is another example of negligent entrustment.

If the vehicle was taken without permission, the driver is responsible, not the owner. However, the owner might need to prove they did not give the drunk driver permission to drive their vehicle. This kind of situation often comes up when a relative or friend borrows someone’s car without asking, only to end up intoxicated and in an accident later. It is also an issue when a drunk driver is driving a stolen vehicle. The owner must be prepared to prove that the car was taken without permission.

Does the Driver’s or Vehicle Owner’s Insurance Cover Damages in a Maryland Car Accident

One of the biggest issues in a car accident is figuring out how insurance will cover the damages. Ordinarily, injured drivers can file insurance claims with the other driver’s insurance company. In Maryland, insurance claimants must prove how the other driver is at fault for the crash. But what happens if the driver is at fault but the vehicle’s owner is vicariously liable? In such a case, the vehicle’s owner’s insurance might also be used to cover the damages.

If the driver took the car without permission, their insurance will likely cover the accident. If the owner gave the driver permission, their insurance might be used to cover damages. Often, injured victims have to fight with both insurance companies, as neither wants to cover the crash.

Talk to your attorney about filing an insurance claim when more than one party is responsible for a car accident. Your lawyer can help you file your claims in a way that maximizes available coverage and hopefully covers all your expenses.

Speak to Our Maryland Car Accident Lawyers About Your Case

Call (410) 694-7291 and talk to our Annapolis car accident lawyers at Rice, Murtha & Psoras to get a free case evaluation.