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New York City Personal Injury Lawyers

Ernest Holzberg & Associates FAQ

New York City Personal Injury Lawyers

Implied Consent and The Family Car

Many people don’t think twice when it comes to lending their car to a family member or friend.  However, based on the doctrine of respondeat superior, even if you are not behind the wheel, you can still be held vicariously liable if the driver to whom you loaned your vehicle gets into an accident.  The legal reasoning is that the person driving the vehicle is acting as an agent of the owner  if the use of the car is authorized.  The owner is legally “vicariously liable” for the actions of the driver. This doctrine also serves the important purpose of ensuring that the owner’s insurance policy provides coverage for the vehicle no matter who is at the wheel.

Even if the owner of the vehicle did not expressly consent to use of the vehicle, implied consent can be inferred in a number of ways.  Implied consent may arise if a reasonable person believed that consent had been given due to the surrounding circumstances.  Words, actions, inactions, or facts may give rise to implied consent.  Even if the use of the vehicle is not authorized, the car owner may be held liable if the driver had a reasonable belief the use would be permitted.  For example, if a parent leaves the keys to the family car on the table, and has not forbidden their teenager from driving the car, the teenager could reasonably assume their parent had consented to their driving the vehicle.  Consent may also be implied if the person had previous permission to use the vehicle or by leaving keys in the ignition of the vehicle.

The owner of a vehicle may be held vicariously liable for another’s negligence when:

  • The vehicle owner either expressly or impliedly consented to another using their vehicle
  • The vehicle owner had the duty or ability to control the use of their vehicle
  • The driver’s negligence caused damage or injury to another person or vehicle

If you have been in an accident with a person who did not own the vehicle they were driving, you may have a claim for negligence against both the owner and the driver of the involved vehicle.  Contact an experienced attorney who can advise you of your rights and will fight for the compensation you deserve.  Call The Law Office of Ernest Holzberg & Associates today at (212) 391-1139 to schedule your free consultation.           


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