Under New Jersey law, ordinarily you are not responsible for injuries caused by someone else driving your car. However, there are certain circumstances in which you may be responsible. A motor vehicle, after all, can be a deadly weapon and therefore you have an obligation to act responsibly when loaning it.
Before turning your keys over to someone else, if you ask questions and place limitations on the driver you are essentially limiting your liability. For example, make sure he or she has a license to operate a vehicle, ask about his or her driving history, make sure he or she is not under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication. Also, let the driver know that he or she is not permitted to operate your vehicle under the influence of any substance that could impair his or her ability to drive and that he or she should not turn your vehicle over to anyone else.
Although these things may seem logical, if you are proactive and do not assume the answers you are limiting your potential liability. Responsibility for someone else’s negligence may pass to you if you allow a person to operate your vehicle that you knew or should have known would pose a danger to others on the roadway.
Deborah Dunn is an Associate in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Ms. Dunn.