How many times has your wife, children, or friend told you to “take my car” and then not thought about it again? Even if the trip is short, both you and the person lending your car may be violating the law. You can also be held responsible for damages caused to the car by another person if they lend it to you.
If you are the owner of a car and want to loan it to someone else, you must ensure that they have adequate car insurance. This also includes coverage for driving other vehicles. Failure to verify these details could result in you being held responsible for any damage caused by the person you loan it to. It is your responsibility to make sure that you don’t allow others to use it.
This principle was established in UK law in 1934 by Monk v Warbey and Others. Warbey owned a car that was insured to allow him and his family members to drive it. He loaned it to Mr Knowles, who in turn gave it to Mr May. Mr May was in an accident with the car while he was using it. He was driving a car owned by Mr Monk. May and Mr Knowles didn’t have third-party insurance, nor the funds or means to satisfy the court judgment. He was found to have originally breached sub section 1 of Section 143 of Road Traffic Act by transferring control of the car from a person not covered. He was thus held responsible for all damages and costs.
Court found that Warbey was informed before parting with the Vehicle by Mr Knowles that neither May nor Mr May had adequate third-party insurance and that he had taken no steps in remedying this. Warbey’s counsel argued that May’s car accident was not sufficiently far from Warbey’s violation of the statute to render Warbey liable to third parties. The Judge disagreed, and Warbey was found responsible. This case’s principle remains in UK law until today. The Act didn’t extend liability to car users beyond common law. However, the decision in this case imposes on the owner of a vehicle, regardless of whether they have insurance, an additional duty on injured third parties. It also allows any third party to sue the owner for damages if he permits his vehicle to be used in this manner, knowingly or unknowingly.
Only one exception to this rule applies to employees who drive a car that is owned by their employer. This means that the employee had reasonable grounds for believing that the insurance was in effect at the time they used the car.
Before agreeing to allow another person to use your vehicle, it is prudent to verify the coverage of your car insurance policy. You could be in trouble if you fail to do this!