Young Drivers

Young DriversI let my 16-year old niece drive my car and she got into an accident. Now the people she hit are saying I’m just as responsible for the damages as she is. Can they say that?

Yes, they can!

Maine’s motor vehicle statutes make the owner of a vehicle who permits a minor to drive their vehicle “jointly and severally liable” for damages caused by the negligence of the minor in operating the vehicle on a public way.

If your niece was negligent in hitting the other party, you (or your insurance company) will have to take responsibility for the damages equally with your niece (or her insurance company). This is true regardless of whether you knew your niece might be a bad driver, or even if she was not generally a bad driver, as long as you gave her permission to drive your vehicle.

The same rule of “vicarious liability” applies when you rent a vehicle from a commercial car rental agency. The agency is jointly and severally liable for damages caused by your negligence in operating the vehicle or by the negligence of another driver operating the vehicle with your permission.

Of course, if you have reason to know that someone wishing to use your vehicle has been drinking and you let them drive your car, then you may be jointly and severally liable for damages caused by their negligence as well. Because someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may harm or even kill another individual negligently, this provision serves as a stern warning against lending your car to anyone whom you suspect may have been drinking or doing drugs.

So, remember, if a minor asks to borrow your car, make sure that person is a safe driver, for you will be responsible for any damages caused by his or her negligent driving….

It’s the law!

Mills, Shay, Lexier & Talbot Areas of Practice

Automobile and Motorcycle Accidents Personal Injury Cases
Wrongful Death Cases Divorce and Custody Disputes
Drug Offenses and All Criminal Matters Parental Rights
Elder Law and Probate / Estate Planning Construction Contracts
Discrimination Claims Workers’ Compensation
Drunk Driving Real Estate
Social Security Disability Malpractice Cases

Contact Info

Map Skowhegan OfficePhone: 207.474.3324
Fax: 207.474.3609
PO Box 9
263 Water Street
Skowhegan, ME
04976-0009
Location Map and Directions