IS THE OWNER OF A VEHICLE LIABLE WHEN ANOTHER DRIVER GETS IN AN ACCIDENT?

Published: April 10, 2021

Under Utah law, the owner of a vehicle may be liable for the negligence of another person driving his or her vehicle if the driver is driving the vehicle for the owner’s benefit, service, or business. The owner may also be liable if the driver is running an errand for the owner of the vehicle. The owner may also be liable if he or she negligently entrusts the vehicle to the driver. See my negligent entrustment post here.

It is well-established that the owner of a vehicle may be held liable for the driver’s negligence where the driver is operating the vehicle for the owner’s benefit, service, or business. See Ferguson v. Reynolds, 52 Utah 583, 585, 176 P. 267 (1918) (driver engaged in owners’ “business” at time of accident); Wright v. Intermountain Motorcar Co., 53 Utah 176,  182, 177 P. 237 (1918) (“it must appear that it was either directly or indirectly being used in the [owner’s] business”); Woody v. Utah Power & Light Co., 54 F,2d 220, 222 (10th Cir. 1931) ( “the use [of the vehicle] must have been in the service of the master or while the servant was about the master’s benefit”). The owner of a vehicle may also be liable for the driver’s negligence when the driver is running “an errand” on the owner’s behalf. See Mehr v. Child, 90 Utah 348, 354, 61 P.2d 624 (1936) (agency relationship would exist if daughter was “on an errand” for her parents and operating parents’ vehicle “for the parents and at their request”).

If you have been involved in a Utah auto accident, call Shane immediately. He has significant experience litigating cases against the owners of vehicles who are liable for the negligence of the driver of their vehicle. He can determine if the owner has liability for entrusting his or vehicle to a third-party or is otherwise liable.

To contact Shane, call or text 385-429-9960 or e-mail at s@gosdis.lawyer.