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I got hit. Who is responsible, the actual driver or the car's owner/policy holder?

Discussion in 'Auto Accidents, Injuries' started by Brian777, Jul 19, 2021.

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  1. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    It may not be common, but there are often TWO names on a motor vehicle title.

    The most common examples could be husband/wife, wife/wife, husband/husband, friend/friend, business partner/business partner, parent/child, relative/relative, etc...

    It is less common, but motor vehicles can be titled in tens of names.

    You are free to sue one or all vehicle owners.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    You really didn't know that two people can own a car...? I find that difficult (but not impossible) to believe. Married couples do it all the time, as well as parents with their children, and in other situations as well. There are many reasons why one may do this.

    Anyway - name them both in any lawsuit.

    Why are you calling the DMV?
     
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  3. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but in CA, both should be sued, as it is likely that both can be held financially liable.
     
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  4. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    You sue the person that ran into you.

    The "or" simply means they both own the car.
     
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  5. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    As I posted above, the other owner may be found financially liable as well. Suing both potentially gives a second pocket to get paid from.
     
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  6. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    It's possible to own pretty much anything jointly with one or more others. It is quite common for cars to have two owners โ€” you see that with married couples all the time. The "or" simply indicates a type of title in which either owner on his/her own may sell, transfer, encumber, etc the vehicle.

    In general you sue the person who was driving the car. Since that person is also an owner of the car, he or she had the right to use the car without the need for permission from anyone else, so you almost certainly would have no claim to make against the other owner of car, absent some facts you've not presented concerning the other owner's involvement in this beyond just being an owner. In any event, both owners are likely covered by the same insurance company anyway, and that's where your payoff for any judgment would be coming from. So suing the driver should be all you need. Consult a personal injury lawyer to get specific legal advice on what you need to do for your situation.
     
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  7. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    You need to have a valid claim against the non driver owner or risk being sanctioned for filing a frivolous claim against that owner. What would be the basis for including the other owner? In California if the vehicle was indeed uninsured then yes, you'd want to include both since in that state all the owners would be potentially liable (at least up to a certain limit) when there is no insurance. But if there was insurance, there'd be no reason to include the other driver, at least given the facts we have.
     
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  8. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Registration usually follows ownership. They both own the car. The word "or" just means that either can sell it without the signature of the other. Has nothing to do with who you sue.

    Seriously?

    Two or more people can jointly own just about anything.

    Have you even contacted these people yet?

    Did you figure out, for sure, whether you have collision coverage or not?

    By the way, your aggressive driving behavior would put you at fault (partly or mostly) in my book.

     
  9. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The matter of insurance is irrelevant insofar as liability is concerned. Read the CALIFORNIA code sections I posted.
     
  10. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    I reread the statute, and believe the other owner likely would not be liable here. Why? Well read the section outlining the liability of the owner carefully:

    CVC 17150 Law section:
    Every owner of a motor vehicle is liable and responsible for death or injury to person or property resulting from a negligent or wrongful act or omission in the operation of the motor vehicle, in the business of the owner or otherwise, by any person using or operating the same with the permission, express or implied, of the owner.

    (Bolding added.) But since the driver of the car was herself an owner of the car, she didn't need any permission of the other owner to drive it. She had the authority to drive it on her own. Indeed, the wording of the statute indicats this section applies when someone other than an owner was driving it, since it refers to getting permission from "the owner".
     
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  11. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I'm telling you that that's not how it's done here. Both owners get named.
     
  12. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    You could name both given the statute and likely avoid sanctions. So yeah, I'd probably do that. But I wouldn't necessarily expect that to stick in this circumstance. I think the other owner would have a defense based on the language of the statute for the reasons I mentioned. The statute requires that the owner being sued must have given permission to the driver to use the car. But if the driver is also an owner, she would have the right to drive the car based on her ownership and may not need the permission of the other owner at all. Permission is a necessary part of the statute in order for there to be liability. That is not to say that one owner might not be driving with permission of another; certainly that could occur. But it would be up to the plaintiff to prove it.
     
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  13. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    You'd also name several Does ;)

    The problem is that the DMV records might not be up to date, so naming all parties who reasonably might have liability is the proper thing to do.
     
  14. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    So long as you can make out a prima facie claim against each of those you name so that you don't get hit with sanctions for filing a frivolous claim, yes. In other words, you need to have some basis to show that person may be liable. Mere speculation alone isn't enough.
     
  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    I don't disagree with that statement.
     
  16. Brian777

    Brian777 Law Topic Starter Member

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    Some say sue the driver who hit me, others say sue both owners. Would it hurt my case any if I sued them both, and left it for the judge to determine who (of them) bears responsibility?
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Joint and several liability is a legal term for a responsibility that is shared by two or more parties to a lawsuit. A wronged party may sue any or all of them, and collect the total damages awarded by a court from any or all of them.

    What Is Joint and Several Liability?.
     
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  18. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Probably not. It might not help you a lot, but it's not likely to hurt you either. And depending on how things play out, it might turn out to be really helpful to collect should there be no insurance available to pay out whatever judgment you get.
     
  19. Brian777

    Brian777 Law Topic Starter Member

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    By the way, how does one "prove" such an accident? I'm wondering if I have enough proof. What I have is photos at the scene of both cars, photos of her driver's license, expired insurance card, & letter from her (former) insurance carrier denying the claim because she is no longer has a policy with them. Also I have the police & DMV reports that I filed.

    The damage to my car indicates that it was impacted from the side, at the fender in front of the passenger wheel but clearly on the side. The damage to her car is on the front, on the bumper on the drover's side almost at the corner but to the inside, beneath the headlight.

    I read online that this is called a "T-bone" accident, and in such accidents, the areas of damage are generally used to determine who was at fault; if one car sustained damage to the side, and the other car to the front, it's considered clear that the driver with front damage is at fault. Can't remember where I read that exactly, I had Googled something like "car accidents in California".

    I'm trying to think worst case scenario, what if she tries to deny everything? Does what I have sound like enough? I asked the business whose parking lot she was turning out of if they have security cam, and they said it wouldn't show that part of the parking lot. Then I asked a car wash across the street and they said the same thing, their cameras wouldn't have seen that.

    So I'm just trying to think ahead at how this could play out so I can be prepared with as air-tight a case as possible.
     
  20. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The DMV and police reports would not be admissible evidence under the hearsay rule. The photo of her driver's license, along with your testimony, would be useful to prove that she was the driver of the other car, but not useful to prove how the accident happened. The photos of the insurance card and insurance company letter about coverage would not be admissible because they are simply not relevant to the issues in the case โ€” who was driving the car and whether that person was negligent. Note that you also have your own testimony about how the accident happened.

    In order to do anything with that evidence you likely need an expert witness who can explain to the court what that evidence means in terms of how the accident likely occurred.

    You present all the evidence you have and do your best to undermine her testimony and other evidence. It's then up to the judge or jury to decide who had the better case.
     

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