Liability of a Vehicle Owner for Bicycle Accidents Involving Third Party Drivers


January 24, 2013

Many bicyclists that suffer serious injuries in accidents with drivers of cars, trucks and SUVs contact our experienced Atlanta bicycle accident lawyers to inquire about suing the owner of a vehicle when someone else was the driver at the time of the accident. Because bicyclists have no protection from the impact of a collision with a motor vehicle, a bicycle accident can result in devastating injuries to a bicyclist.

The medical expenses and long period of disability that may result make it imperative that all available insurance coverage be identified to cover the full scope of the injuries and loss. There are a number of legal theories for imposing liability on the owner of the vehicle including:

Negligent Entrustment: The vehicle owner may be liable when the owner provides a vehicle to a third party like a friend or family member to use with knowledge that the driver is not competent to drive safely. The driver's deficiency may be related to the driver's lack of experience, mental defect, past pattern of reckless behavior or history of unsafe driving. The rationale for this basis of imposing liability is that a motor vehicle is a dangerous instrumentality so those who entrust motor vehicles to those they should know cannot operate them competently should be held financially responsible.

Employment Relationship: Many employees are involved in collisions while performing job-related duties. An employer may be held vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee based on the employment relationship. Personal injury claims based on the employment relationship can be complex because there may be disputes about whether the activity was actually for the benefit of the employer or a personal errand of the employee.

Family Relationship: Georgia law does not automatically make a parent liable for car accidents caused by their child. The family purpose doctrine allows liability to be imposed on a parent for car accidents caused by other family members, like the owner's kids, under certain circumstances where there is sufficient evidence an agency relationship exists. The family use doctrine applies if the following conditions are met:

• The negligent driver was an immediate family member living at home

• The vehicle is provided for the "pleasure, comfort or convenience" of the family member

• The driver had the permission or consent to use the vehicle at the time of the bicycle accident

• Use of the vehicle was for a family purpose (this includes convenience of the owner)

• Sufficient control or authority was exercised by the owner to say an agency relationship existed

These factual elements can be extremely complicated depending on the specific circumstances and can turn on subtle differences so it is important to have an experienced Atlanta bicycle accident attorney evaluate your claim.

Our experienced Atlanta bicycle accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates offer effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our bicycle accident lawyers are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.