Those who have been seriously injured in a Georgia car accident can become concerned when they learn the vehicle that hit them was being driven by a different person than the car’s legal owner. Sometimes the at-fault driver is a teenager with no insurance coverage of his or her own. People who have been injured understandably have many questions, such as, is there valid insurance coverage available for my claim? Who is responsible for my medical bills and lost wages?Speeding traffic
Thankfully, several years ago Georgia legislators passed the Family Purpose Doctrine. By law, a vehicle owner is responsible for any damages caused by a family member who they let use their vehicle. This doesn’t just include teenagers, but adults as well, as long as they are part of the car owner’s immediate household.
What does the Family Purpose Doctrine entail?
According to Georgia case law, a person could be held accountable for the actions of another driver using his or her vehicle:
- To be legally responsible, he or she must own the vehicle.
- The vehicle must have been made available for family use.
- The driver must be a member of the vehicle owner’s immediate household.
- The owner of the vehicle must have given the driver permission to use it.
How does the Family Purpose Doctrine affect my injury claim?
If you are involved in a collision with another driver who is not insured, there may still be an opportunity to pursue a claim for the damages you sustained in the accident. If the person who caused the accident with you was driving a car owned and insured by another person, the car owner’s insurance policy could be pursued for damages as long as the driver was a member of his or her household.
Even if the negligent driver does carry insurance, an additional policy might be available if the car involved is owned by a different person than the driver. If the driver is a member of the car owner’s household, both the driver’s and the owner’s insurance policies may be pursued. This is especially important in cases with very serious injuries. It is not uncommon for medical bills in these instances to exceed the $25,000 minimum limits of liability that every Georgia driver must carry.
What if the driver of the car is not a member of the car owner’s household?
Sometimes the vehicle owner can still be held liable for the actions of the driver even if the driver is not a member of his or her household. If the owner of a vehicle entrusts it to a family member and that family member allows another person to drive the car, the vehicle owner can still be held liable if that other person causes an accident. The family member who gave permission to another driver must be present at the time of the crash.
This law does not only apply to cars, but to any vehicle, including boats.
If you have been seriously injured in a Georgia auto accident, you should contact an experienced injury attorney right away. Hiring a lawyer who deals with injury claims every day is the only way to know for sure that all possible avenues of available insurance are explored.
Ty Wilson is a Savannah car accident attorney who offers free information at tywilsonlaw.com. Visit to order his FREE books and to read his many articles and to watch his videos BEFORE talking to an insurance adjuster, signing any forms or hiring an attorney.
If you have questions for a Savannah injury lawyer today, call Ty at 1-866-937-5454.