Do you know your rights if you’re injured in an accident with a non-owner driver? What happens if you’re driving a car that doesn’t belong to you when you get into an accident? These complicated and yet important legal questions can help you figure out your next steps post-crash.

It is important to understand the duties, obligations, and rights for all involved participants when a California car accident involves a driver who did not own that vehicle. The California vehicle code section 17150 outlines that every owner of a car is responsible and liable for injury or death to a person or property associated with a wrongful or negligent act or omission in a motor vehicle operation, by any person operating or using the same vehicle with the permission, implied or expressed, of the owner.

This means that an owner could be held responsible for an accident if a car is loaned out to somebody else. In California, this is known as permissive use. However, a vehicle owner will often have limited liability. Permissive users who get in vehicle accidents when using someone else’s car do not leave the owner liable for an unlimited amount of damages. There are liability limitations associated with the vehicle owner.

Under California Vehicle Code Section 17151(a), the liability of any vehicle owner is limited to $15,000 for an injury to one person or the death of one person or up to $30,000 for the death or injury to more than one individual. However, an owner of a vehicle could still be found negligent for violating the law. This depends on the specific facts of the case.

For example, if the non-owner and user of the vehicle is in the employment of the vehicle owner and is running an errand for the owner of the vehicle, then the damage limitation does not apply. If you have recently been injured in an accident and have questions about your rights associated with a non-vehicle owning driver, contact a San Diego car accident attorney as soon as possible.