Kansas is known for its hospitality and the willingness of individuals to lend a helping hand (even in some of the state’s larger cities). Whether it’s a cup of sugar or a few dollars to help you make ends meet, Kansans are always prepared to assist someone in need. In some cases, this might include lending one’s vehicle to help that person run an errand, apply for a job, or handle that person’s personal obligations. Does this pose any potential legal trouble for you? Like most legal questions, the answer is a definite, “It depends.”
Individuals Responsible for Their Own Actions
A fundamental principle of our judicial system is that adults are generally responsible for the civil and criminal consequences of their own actions. This principle applies in the context of borrowing another’s car, for example: even though the car may belong to another person, a driver of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring the vehicle is properly ensured and registered before taking the vehicle out onto the street. If the driver gets pulled over, he or she cannot avoid a ticket for improper registration or not having insurance on the vehicle by claiming the vehicle belongs to someone else.
This holds true in the realm of civil law/personal injury law as well. A person who is driving the vehicle of another and who causes injury to another driver or passenger because of careless or reckless driving may not avoid responsibility for those injuries he or she caused by claiming the car belonged to another person.
Notwithstanding this general principle, however, Kansas law also recognizes that in any personal injury accident several individuals may be to blame for the plaintiff’s injuries. In the context of lending someone your vehicle, you as the vehicle’s owner may be brought into the case as an additional defendant if:
- Your car had defects or was not in good operating order and you knew or should have known this information and you did not disclose this information to the driver. To illustrate, if you know the brakes on your older car are not working well, you may have a legal duty to disclose this fact to another before you let that person drive your car. If that person gets into a wreck and it is determined that the brakes failed, you may be responsible. If you disclose the problem to the other person and he or she chooses to drive anyway, then he or she may have assumed the risk and be solely responsible for any crashes that result.
- You know or should know the person shouldn’t be driving. If you lend your keys to someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who has a significant history of being involved in car wrecks, you may be partly responsible for any injuries this person causes if he or she is involved in a car wreck. In most cases, the focus will be on what you knew or should have known prior to lending your car: you are not expected to know everyone’s blood alcohol content just by looking at them, for example, but you cannot lend your keys to someone that you watched consume a six-pack of beer and not expect to escape all liability.
How Your Kansas Car Crash Attorney Helps You
When you retain Michael R. Lawless, a seasoned Kansas Car Crash Lawyer, to assist you with your Kansas car wreck case, he will thoroughly evaluate your case and identify all parties who contributed to your crash. By holding all individuals responsible for your wreck accountable, you are in a better position to recover full and fair compensation for your losses and injuries. Call Michael R. Lawless, Attorney at Law today for help by dialing (800) 734-3771.