Can a vehicle owner be responsible for a crash when he isn’t driving?

Most of the time, a vehicle owner is responsible for the damage caused by his vehicle in an accident because he was driving the car. However, under certain circumstances, an owner may be held liable for injuries resulting from the crash when he isn’t even present.

Vehicle Owner Liability

Vehicle owners can be held liable for an accident, even when they weren’t driving. Common scenarios in which the owner is responsible include:

  • Negligent entrustment. If a vehicle owner allows someone to drive his car who is unfit, the owner is guilty of negligent entrustment. The driver may be incapable of driving responsibly because he is intoxicated, unlicensed, a minor, or has a history of reckless driving.
  • Negligent maintenance. If you fail to maintain your vehicle properly, and a mechanical failure leads to a collision, you may be held liable for the resulting injuries.
  • Vicarious liability. If an employer allows an employee to drive a company vehicle and the employee causes an accident, that employer may be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages.
  • Family purpose doctrine. Texas follows the family purpose doctrine. When someone purchases and maintains a vehicle for general family use, the owner is responsible for the actions of any family member driving that car.

Stolen Vehicle Liability

The owner of a stolen vehicle is generally not held liable for damages caused in an accident, since the car was taken without his consent. Liability is dependent upon the express or implied consent of the owner, which is absent in the event of theft. Therefore, the vehicle owner can’t be held responsible for the actions of the thief.


Damages that you may be entitled to recover due to a vehicle accident include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Vehicle damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damages
  • You Need an Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a vehicle accident, it’s important to identify all of the responsible parties in order to maximize your recovery and get the compensation you deserve. To learn more, contact the Cain Law Firm to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation.