For parents who decide to give their teenage or young adult children the keys to their car to head out shopping or to a party, you better be careful. In New Mexico, if you decide to loan your automobile or truck to one of your children to drive – and they get in to an accident – you can be held legally responsible. And what is more potentially troubling is that, if your child lets one of their friends drive the vehicle, it is possible – though not certain by any means – that you could also be liable if that person gets in to a wreck.
N.M. Stat.Ann. § 66-5-205.3(A)(2) of the Mandatory Financial Responsibility Act provides that “motor vehicle liability policies shall insure any person using such motor vehicle with the express or implied permission of the named insured.” Key terms of this statute include the terms “express” and “implied”. It is the second term, “implied”, which may allow an injured party to bring a claim against a parent who grants permission to his own kid before the child – unbeknownst to his parent – allows a friend to drive the car instead.
One way a parent can avoid this eventuality is to tell their child not to allow anyone else to drive the vehicle. In this day and age, it may be a wise measure to send a text or email to your kid as an extra precaution whenever they go out so, if a problem arises, the parent has actual proof of their instructions. Absent notice to the contrary, a second permittee may claim coverage based upon a logical inference that the first permittee had authority to allow the second permitee to operate the vehicle. United Services Auto. Ass’n v. National Farmers Union Property & CAS, 119 N.M. 397, 399, 891 P.2d 538, 540 (1995).
Basically the New Mexico courts accept a very broad interpretation of N.M. Stat.Ann. § 66-5-205.3(A)(2) because it is for the benefit for the public as large and the insured party specifically as it affords insurance coverage to those who need it when they find themselves with a personal injury claim based on the negligence of the driver.
The New Mexico lawyers at Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. represent individuals in personal injury suits in New Mexico. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Call the office at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com for more information