Home Car Accidents Unlicensed Drivers

If you let a friend drive your car, and your friend causes an accident while driving your car are you responsible for the damage? The simple answer is that you are normally not responsible for the damage caused when someone else is driving the vehicle. However, like most legal positions there are exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • Where your friend is driving your car to run an errand on your behalf;
  • When your friend is an employee (or agent) for you; and,
  • When you negligently allow your friend to drive your car when you knew your friend should not be driving. This is usually called negligent entrustment.

Unlicensed Drivers

The idea of negligent entrustment is that UNLESS you knew or should have known that your friend was mentally or physically unfit to drive you are generally not liable for damage caused by your friend while driving your car. An example might be if you had a cookout, your friend clearly had too much to drink, you let your friend borrow your car to drive home, even though you knew you friend was impaired. In that case, you, as the owner of the vehicle, may be found to be responsible for any damage caused by your friend while driving your car.

Should I Loan My Car to My Friend Who Is Drunk All of the Time?

It just doesn’t sound like a good idea does it? In some areas judges have said that a reasonable person has the obligation to recognize the obvious danger of allowing someone to borrow your car for an undefined extended period of time to someone you know or should know has a substance abuse issue and is likely to drive your car while impaired. A reasonably prudent person would be able to identify that this situation would reasonably result in increased risk of serious injury or even death.

The Indiana Code and Administrative Rules say that only licensed drivers are allowed to operate a vehicle and that an unlicensed driver is prohibited from operating a vehicle. Further, it is against the law for a licensed driver to allow a unlicensed driver to drive. Makes sense, right? The idea is to protect others by preventing inexperienced drivers from driving.

If I Let an Unlicensed Friend Drive and There Is an Accident, Am I at Fault?

Generally, if you violate a law which was enacted to protect the public, your violation by itself, is not enough to be held responsible for the accident. In addition, the illegal act (driving without a license) must be one of the risks that the law was enacted to protect against.