is the owner of a vehicle liable in all cases?
In Utah, the general rule is that the owner of a vehicle is not liable for the someone else driving or using their vehicle. Without them present, the driver usually takes the fault in an accident. There are a number of exceptions though, including the two outlined below, among others.
FIRST. Under Utah law, the owner of a vehicle may be held liable for the driver’s negligence if the driver is operating the vehicle for the owner’s benefit, service, or business. See Ferguson v. Reynolds, 52 Utah 583, 585, 176 P. 267 (1918) (driver engaged in owners’ “business” at time of accident); Wright v. Intermountain Motorcar Co., 53 Utah 176, 182, 177 P. 237 (1918) (“it must appear that it was either directly or indirectly being used in the [owner’s] business”); Woody v. Utah Power & Light Co., 54 F,2d 220, 222 (10th Cir. 1931) ( “the use [of the vehicle] must have been in the service of the master or while the servant was about the master’s benefit”). So, if the reason a vehicle was given to use by someone else, and it was in some way benefitting the owner, they would take fault.
SECOND. Under Utah law, the owner of a vehicle may be liable for the driver’s negligence when the driver is running “an errand” on the owner’s behalf. See Mehr v. Child, 90 Utah 348, 354, 61 P.2d 624 (1936) (agency relationship would exist if daughter was “on an errand” for her parents and operating parents’ vehicle “for the parents and at their request”).
IMMEDIATELY CONTACT AN ATTORNEY
If you or someone you know have been involved in a Utah auto accident, call Gosdis Law immediately. Shane has significant experience litigating cases against the owners of vehicles who are liable for the negligence of the driver of their vehicle. He can determine if the owner has liability for entrusting his or vehicle to a third-party or is otherwise liable.