Owner Liability in Connecticut Auto Accidents

Were you recently involved in a Connecticut car accident while driving a borrowed, rented, or leased vehicle? Or were you in an accident involving a vehicle driven by someone who wasn’t the owner? If so, the legal team at Holth & Kollman, LLC, can help you understand your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation. We can review your case, deal with the insurance companies, and represent you in court if necessary. Contact us today for a free initial consultation to discuss how we can assist you.

Owner Liability for Rented or Leased Vehicles in Connecticut

If a vehicle owner rents or leases their vehicle to another person in Connecticut, the owner is legally responsible for any injuries or damage the other person might cause while driving the vehicle. Specifically, Connecticut car accident laws state that the owner of a rented or leased vehicle has the same legal responsibility for damages as the person driving the car. 

This means if the driver causes an accident, both the driver and the owner can face legal consequences for any resulting personal or property damage. Connecticut courts have clarified that the purpose of this law is to promote road safety by encouraging owners to lend or rent their vehicles only to careful drivers.

Owner Liability Under Connecticut’s Family Car Doctrine

In Connecticut, the family car doctrine is a rule that holds vehicle owners responsible for accidents caused by family members who have permission to use the car. This doctrine applies when the family member who caused the accident had the general authority to drive the vehicle. Essentially, if someone owns a car and allows family members like children or siblings to use it as a family car, the owner could be legally responsible if the driver causes an accident. 

Suppose, for example, a mother owns a vehicle and allows her son to drive it occasionally as a family car. Then, the son gets into a crash while driving this family car. In that case, the mother, as the owner of the vehicle, would be liable for any property damage or injuries resulting from the accident her child caused.

Exceptions and Limitations to Owner Liability

Connecticut law includes certain exceptions to owner liability for accidents involving rented or leased vehicles. One exception involves private passenger vehicles with lease terms of one year or longer and bodily injury liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. For accidents involving such vehicles, the owner of the leased vehicle is not automatically liable. In this context, private passenger vehicles include standard cars, station wagons, campers, and light trucks. However, it does not include motorcycles or vehicles used for public transport or taxi services.

Another exception applies to leased vehicles classified as trucks, tractor-trailers, or tractor-trailer units with gross vehicle weight ratings of ten thousand pounds or more and lease terms of one year or more. For accidents involving these vehicles, the owner’s financial responsibility doesn’t apply if the vehicle is insured against losses for at least two million dollars at the time of the accident.

There are also exceptions to owner liability for accidents under the family car doctrine. One key exception is when the family member driving does not have explicit or implicit permission to use the vehicle. If, for example, a family member uses a family car without the knowledge or consent of the owner, the owner might not be liable for accidents resulting from their family member’s motor vehicle operation. Additionally, if the family member using the car has their own separate insurance policy that covers the accident, this can also limit the owner’s liability.

Comparative Fault Rules in Connecticut

Connecticut’s comparative fault rules determine who pays for injuries and property damage resulting from injury accidents in which multiple parties are at fault. This includes car accident cases involving owner liability for borrowed, rented, or leased vehicles. In these cases, the court apportions blame and financial responsibility based on each party’s contribution to the accident.

For instance, imagine your car is hit by someone driving a borrowed car. You file a lawsuit against both the owner and the driver of the other car. The court decides that the driver of the borrowed car was 80 percent at fault for reckless driving, and the owner was 20 percent at fault for negligently lending out their vehicle. If the total amount of your medical expenses and other crash-related losses adds up to $100,000, the driver would owe $80,000, and the owner would owe $20,000.

Legal representation is essential if you are involved in an accident with two or more liable parties. If multiple people are responsible for the accident, your lawyer can pursue appropriate compensation from each on your behalf. A good lawyer also knows how to limit your own share of fault in order to maximize the value of your recovery.

Compensation for Car Accident Claims Involving Borrowed, Rented, or Leased Vehicles

If you get hurt in a car accident involving a driver who was borrowing, renting, or leasing a vehicle, you could seek compensation to cover the following types of losses resulting from the accident:
 
Medical bills for past and future treatments
Lost wages if you can’t work due to your crash injuries
Loss of future earning capacity if you can’t earn as much as before
Pain, suffering, and diminished quality or enjoyment of life
Loss of consortium if your injuries affect your relationships
Repair or replacement costs for a damaged or totaled vehicle
Rental car expenses while your car is undergoing repairs
 

How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Connecticut Car Accident Case

If questions of owner liability arise in your Connecticut car accident case, you need and deserve a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Your personal injury attorney can help you by:

Investigating the accident scene to collect useful evidence
Interviewing witnesses who saw the accident
Determining the vehicle’s legal ownership status at the time of the accident
Explaining your legal rights and relevant laws that apply to your case
Assessing the full extent of your financial losses
Calculating a fair value for your accident injury claim
Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
Communicating with the driver’s or owner’s lawyer or insurance provider
Filing all necessary paperwork for your claim
Consulting medical experts to substantiate your injury claim
Organizing your medical records to support your case
Representing you in court hearings and trials if necessary
Organizing your medical records to support your case
Arguing your case in front of a judge or jury
Challenging any attempts to unfairly assign fault to you
Protecting you from legal tactics that might reduce your settlement
Resolving any disputes that arise during the claim process

We’ll do all this work at no upfront cost to you. Instead, we work on a contingency basis, which means we only collect a fee if we win your case and put money back in your pocket.

Contact an Owner Liability Car Accident Lawyer in Connecticut

Still have questions about owner liability after a car accident in Connecticut? Get in touch with Holth & Kollman, LLC, to arrange your free initial consultation now. Our team will analyze your situation, provide clear legal advice, and support you every step of the way.

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