It's not unusual for people to let friends and family members borrow their cars. However, you have to be careful about who you let drive your vehicle, because you could be held liable for accidents the person causes. Case in point, there are times when you could be put on the hook for paying damages and losses if you let a known drug or alcohol addict use your vehicle. Here's more information about this issue.
Patterns of Behavior
Typically when a vehicle's owner becomes liable for an accident caused by someone else driving his or her vehicle, it's because the person knew the driver was unfit to be behind the wheel. For example, giving the keys to someone who is drunk can land you a lot of legal trouble because it's well known alcohol has a deleterious effect on people's mental and physical faculties, increasing the risk of an accident occurring.
Although it may seem like a long shot, you could be held responsible for damages caused by a driver who has an addiction to drugs and alcohol. While the person may not have been intoxicated when you gave him or her the keys to your vehicle, you could still get in legal trouble if you knew or had reason to know the individual may drink or do drugs and get behind the wheel of the vehicle.
It has to do with the idea of past behavior predicting future outcomes. If the person developed a reputation for driving while he or she was intoxicated, an accident victim could make the case that you should have known the driver would have engaged in the same behavior with your vehicle, and that you were negligent to allow the individual to use your car or truck. While an addiction to drugs or alcohol doesn't automatically mean a person will drive while intoxicated, it may make it easier for the plaintiff to make his or her case against you if you knew about the addiction.
It's important to note, though, that the plaintiff would have to prove you knew or had reason to know about the person's addiction and/or predilection for driving while intoxicated. This may be done in a couple of ways including introducing driving records showing the perpetrator had DUIs, testimony from friends and family members of the driver, and even social media posts that discussed the offending behavior.
As noted previously, it may be challenging for the plaintiff to make the connection. If they do, however, you could be made to pay thousands of dollars in damages. It's important you speak to an attorney about this issue if you get hit with a lawsuit. The attorney can provide sound advice that can help you avoid paying for someone else's mistakes. Talk with a motor vehicle accident lawyer today for more information about your options.