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Texas Car Accident Caused By Non-Owner Driver: Sue The Driver Or Owner?

non-owner driver car accident
Were you injured in an accident caused by a non-owner driver? Our Corpus Christi car accident attorneys explain who you can seek compensation from.

Every time you get behind the wheel you’re at risk of suffering an injury in a car accident. Even if you do everything you can to remain safe, there’s no way of knowing if another driver will act in a negligent manner. As you review the finer details of the accident, you may learn that the at-fault driver did not own the vehicle they were operating. This will add another layer of challenges to an already complex claims process. If you’re injured in a Texas car accident caused by a non-owner driver, our Corpus Christi car accident attorneys explain what to do.

Can a car owner be sued for another driver’s accident in Texas?

It’s natural to assume that the person who caused your accident is the owner of the vehicle they were driving. However, this doesn’t always hold true. And that leads to the question of whether you can sue the actual car owner for another driver’s actions. 

Generally speaking, the answer is yes. While the at-fault driver is responsible for the accident, you may also be able to take legal action against the owner of the vehicle.

Negligent entrustment law often comes into play in these types of accidents. This law refers to the legal principle that assigns vicarious liability to an individual such as the car owner, who loans their vehicle to another party, who is then involved in an accident.

Note: Permissible use must apply. This means that the owner of the vehicle gave the at-fault driver permission to use their car.

The Supreme Court of Texas has taken on many cases regarding negligent entrustment law, with all of them requiring the plaintiff to show the following:

  • That permissible use existed;
  • That the driver acted in a reckless or negligent manner;
  • That the vehicle owner knew the driver was reckless;
  • That the driver’s actions caused the accident;
  • That negligence was the cause of the accident.

 

For example, if the owner lends a vehicle to someone without a valid driver’s license, negligent entrustment law could come into play. 

What is the Family Purpose Doctrine?

person handing over a car key to a non-owner driver
The Family Purpose Doctrine holds the car owner liable for an accident caused by a family member regardless of permission.

In Texas, the Family Purpose Doctrine states that the owner of a vehicle is liable for damages caused by a family member, such as a spouse or child. 

For instance, if a person owns a vehicle and allows their spouse to drive it, the owner would be liable for damages if the family member causes an accident. This holds true even if the owner did not give the family member permission to drive the vehicle. 

So should you sue the driver or owner of the vehicle? Simply put, you should do whatever it takes to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries and related damages. 

In most cases, the car owner’s insurance policy pays for damages related to an accident. However, it’s possible for the costs to exceed the owner’s liability limits, at which point you should also seek compensation from the non-owner driver. 

What is non-owner car insurance?

Non-owner car insurance is designed to provide liability coverage to someone who doesn’t have a vehicle but drives one owned by someone else.

This is liability-only coverage, meaning that it only pays for injuries and property damage caused by the carrier’s negligence. It doesn’t cover damage to the vehicle that was borrowed. Furthermore, it doesn’t pay for any of the at-fault driver’s injuries in an accident. 

When you’re wondering who to seek compensation from, here are some details to take into consideration:

  • The at-fault driver may have non-owner car insurance coverage, which is designed to help cover the injuries and damages of the victim (you);
  • The at-fault driver may be listed on the owner’s car insurance policy, allowing you to file a claim with the vehicle owner’s insurance company. 

Obtaining compensation after an accident caused by a non-owner driver

After any accident, your first priority is your well-being and long-term prognosis. After seeking immediate medical attention, you can turn your attention to the cause of the accident and how  to obtain compensation for your losses.

Keep this information in mind as you begin the claims process:

  • Was the person driving the vehicle also the owner of the vehicle?
  • What evidence do you have that the driver was not the owner?
  • Does the at-fault driver of the vehicle have a non-owner car insurance policy?
  • Do you have insurance contact information for both the owner of the vehicle and the driver? 

Our Corpus Christi car accident attorneys will seek damages from all responsible parties

As you can see, seeking compensation after an accident caused by a non-owner driver can be complex but you don’t have to do it alone. Every case is personal at The Burkett Law Firm. Our experienced Corpus Christi car accident lawyers are available to answer your questions, provide legal guidance, and deal with all responsible parties including the car owner and the at-fault driver, to help you get all the compensation you deserve. If you were injured by a non-owner driver in Texas, contact us online or give us a call today for a free consultation. It’s not just a case to us; it’s your life.