When a Third Party Is Liable for a Car Accident

Madeleine Jones
February 14, 2017

When a third party is legally liable for a car accident, the victim may have additional options available to recover compensation for injuries he or she sustains. Recognizing which parties may bear legal responsibility for a car accident is the first step toward recovery. If you or a family member was seriously injured in a car accident, call a Las Vegas car accident lawyer at Cogburn Law Offices today for a free case consultation.

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Third Parties that May Be Responsible for Car Accidents

If you have been in a car accident in Nevada, an experienced Las Vegas injury attorney can explain that a variety of third parties may be responsible for a car accident. They include:


Employers are generally responsible for the conduct of their employees during working hours. If a person is driving a company vehicle, the business owner may be legally liable if the accident occurred during working hours and the employee was performing job duties. This liability potentially extends to the state if the person who caused the accident was a governmental employee. Employers may be liable even if the person was driving a personal vehicle, so long as he or she was performing work-related duties.

Car Manufacturers

When a manufacturing or design defect results in an accident, the vehicle manufacturer may be to blame. This can occur when the vehicle suddenly shuts down, a tire blows out, brakes fail, airbags do not deploy or any other act occurs that causes the accident. Manufacturers can be held legally liable for such accidents.

Vehicle Repair Shops

If a vehicle malfunctions on the road and was recently serviced for repair, the repair shop may be responsible for the negligent repair and the resulting damages.

Parents of a Minor Driver

When a minor driver causes an accident, the parent may be held responsible. Nevada law imputes liability to the parent, guardian or responsible person who signed a minor’s driver’s license or permit when the minor’s willful misconduct or negligence results in damage. Therefore, a teen driver’s accident can actually cause his or her parents to have to pay for an injured driver or passenger’s injuries and vehicle repairs.

Car Owner

Another person who may bear liability in an accident is the legal owner of the vehicle. If a person entrusts his or her vehicle to someone else who then causes an accident, the owner of the vehicle can be held legally responsible. This liability may arise due to a doctrine called negligent entrustment, which occurs when a person entrusts a dangerous instrument to someone else, knowing that the person is too inexperienced or would otherwise pose an unreasonable risk to others. However, liability can also arise when a person has no poor driving history or other record of actions that would put the owner on notice that the person is an unsafe driver.

Bars and Clubs

While many states impose liability on bars, clubs or other establishments that continue to serve alcohol to a person who ultimately causes a drunk driving accident, Nevada does not have such a dram shop law. However, the one exception to this rule is if the person who caused the accident was a driver under the age of 21 at the time of the accident. A car accident lawyer Las Vegas can explain when this rule may apply.

Social Host

Similar to the exception on dram shop laws, Nevada law allows someone who is injured by an intoxicated person under 21 to sue the social host who served him or her alcohol. Such liability does not apply if the drunk driver was 21 or older.

Rideshare Company

Today, many drivers use their personal vehicles to make money from a rideshare program such as Uber or Lyft. While these companies take great care to distance themselves from possible driver negligence claims, they often carry very high limits on insurance coverage to minimize their risk. If a driver of one of the vehicles involved in the accident was part of a rideshare company, there may be a potential avenue for compensation through a claim against the insurance policy.

Party Responsible for Road Maintenance

The private contractor or government agency responsible for the design or the maintenance of area roadways may be responsible if the accident was due to debris on the roadway, a faulty stoplight, or a covered road sign.

Property Owner

Sometimes the actions of property owners may contribute to an accident, such as letting trees or shrubs become overgrown and cover signs. When a property owner is responsible for creating a dangerous condition, traditional rules regarding negligence may apply.

Filing a Claim

A lawyer can assist with filing a claim against the party that caused the accident as well as conducting an investigation into the identity of other possible parties that bear legal responsibility. He or she can explore whether other insurance may be in effect, including a relative’s insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, business insurance, uninsured motorist coverage or other insurance that may provide compensation for the accident.