Car Owner Is Responsible When Loaned Car Causes Accident


The Minnesota Safety Responsibility Act, MS §169.09(5a), says what happens if a borrowed car gets in an accident. A motor vehicle owner who gives someone permission to use his car is liable to those injured or damaged by the vehicle’s operation. The Safety Responsibility Act was adopted by the legislature for a good reason. Between an innocent third party injured by the negligent operation of an automobile, and the owner of that automobile who loaned it to another person to drive it, the vehicle owner should bear the cost of the injuries from a car accident.

The law in Minnesota therefore requires every automobile insurance policy to cover the damages caused by the insured car. The coverage extends to anyone the owner allowed to use the car. This includes personal injuries from the car accident.

Even an auto dealer who lets a customer test-drive a car is subject to this law and is responsible if the driver causes an accident.


Of course, there are exceptions. The primary exception to this law is if someone drives your car without permission. However, the owner of a vehicle has the burden of proving that he did not give permission. This issue has come up for our car accident lawyers several times. The car owner must make a strong showing that the automobile was being used without his knowledge and contrary to his or her explicit instructions. That is the focus on these cases.

In many cases, it is hard for the car owner to prove there was not permission. Often, it is a family member or friend who uses the car and gets in an accident. Permission may be found from all surrounding facts and circumstances. For example, discussions relating to use of vehicle, purpose for using vehicle, and relationship between vehicle’s owner and driver. The strongest evidence of implied permission is a series of prior uses without express permission. Implied consent may also be inferred from a familial relationship between the driver and vehicle owner. We also look at the relationship between the owner and the person who gave the driver permission to use the car.

Our car accident lawyers have successfully handled several cases where there was a question about whether the owner of the vehicle gave permission to the driver.


In some cases, the question is whether the driver exceeded the permission for use of the car. Once it is determined that initial permission was given to borrow and drive the car, the owner is responsible. Even major departures from the initial scope of permission (e.g. taking employer’s vehicle for joy ride when permission was limited only to driving it home and back), do not relieve the owner from liability.If the borrower’s negligent use of the vehicle causes a car accident or injury, the owner is responsible.

An owner’s demand for the return of a motor vehicle alone does not effectively terminate the permission initially granted for its use. Instead, when a request for the return of a car contemplates additional driving, the initial permission is extended to allow the permittee to return the borrowed car.

A dark red background with a pattern of flowers.
Owner of Car Responsible for Accident MN

If you are injured in a car accident where the owner of the vehicle loaned it to the driver, you may have a claim against the insurance of the owner of the car as well as the insurance of the driver. The same is true if you are injured while a passenger in a borrowed car. When you call our office, an experienced MN lawyer will fully explain the insurance issues to you. We will advise you of your rights and make sure you get the compensation you are entitled to.


Pam Rochlin and David Rochlin are experienced Minnesota car accident personal injury lawyers with more than 25 years’ experience.We have successfully handled hundreds of injury cases. Pam Rochlin is a former partner at Meshbesher and Spence, providing small firm attention and personal service. David and Pam are married, and we treat our clients like they are a part of our family.

We have offices where you can come to discuss your car accident personal injury case in Edina, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Woodbury. We also meet our car accident clients at their homes. We come to St. Paul, Chanhassen, Chaska, Maple Grove, Apple Valley, and Burnsville.Also, White Bear Lake, Brooklyn Park, and other cities throughout Minnesota. We will always provide you with a free initial consultation. Further, we never charge anything unless you receive compensation for your injuries.