In certain instances, it may be possible for another party to be at least partially responsible for damage to your car or your person in an accident, and we don’t mean the other driver. Under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability, it is possible for someone other than the driver to be held responsible for a car accident.
For example, if an accident is caused by a defect in a car, the manufacturer or dealer may be held responsible for the damages. The driver of a car may not generally be responsible for an accident caused by improperly built equipment that was undetected by the driver, and that made the car unsafe for driving.
In some states, a car owner may be liable for damages caused by a driver's negligence if he/she gave the driver permission to use the car. Generally, in order for a third party (owner's) liability to attach, there must be some negligence on the owner's part, such as knowing a driver has a poor driving record but allowing him to drive anyway.
A passenger may be liable if he or she exerted control over the car or took action that caused or contributed to the accident.
Landowners may be partially liable if their property was a contributing factor to the cause of an accident. For example, overgrown bushes that obscure a driver's clear view of the road may interfere with a driver's ability to see a road sign or an oncoming car.
Although it is primarily the driver's responsibility not to drive while impaired by alcohol, one who continues to serve alcohol to a person who is clearly intoxicated may be liable for any ensuing accident. This liability is usually imposed whether the person furnishing the liquor is a liquor vendor or the host of a party.
Laws pertaining to third party responsibility in driver negligence cases are often different in each state. Although the driver is the main person responsible for taking the precautions needed to drive safely, sometimes the negligent actions of others may contribute to the cause of a car accident. There are many factors to be taken into account when determining exactly who should be held accountable for an accident.