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Liability of Car Owner in case of Accident by Driver

As the owner of the car, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is in a good condition to drive and has all the documents. At times you might give the car to drive to your friend or driver whom you have employed. In case a scenario where the accident has occurred due to driving by your friend or driver will you be liable for the accident caused across? Let us examine the scenarios where one can be held accountable.

As per Sec 279 of Motor Vehicle Act 2019, Whoever drives any vehicle, or rides, on any public way in a manner so rash or negligent as to endanger human life, or to be likely to cause hurt or injury to any other person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to 1000 Rupees, or with both.

If the victim death is caused by the accident, then he can be charged under Sec 304A of IPC causing death by negligence, Whoever causes the death of any person by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

In the case of rash driving and driving under the influence of alcohol, the liability is on the driver of the car for the accident caused.

There are two scenarios where the owner of the car can be held liable:

  1. The owner of the car was in the car and he had influenced the driver to drive recklessly and over speed. The owner can be held liable as part of vicarious liability, where the employer is responsible for the acts which are done under the course of employment by the employee. But also, mere words from the driver saying he was under the owner's instruction will not hold up in court. As under civil and criminal law, the relationship between the car owner and driver is defined as 'master' and 'servant' and the master cannot be held liable for the wrongdoing of the servant, unless it is proved it was done under such consent or permission by the master. The criterion is evidence in such cases.

  2. The second scenario can be the owner of the car wasn't present in the car but the vehicle wasn't in a condition to be driven. But still was asked to be droved by the owner of the car as part of the employment.

As a moral responsibility, one should ensure they don't drive recklessly and if they are involved in an accident as a passenger or as an owner of the car they should ensure to take the victim to the hospital. Rather than running away from the spot of the accident as this can come under the charges of Hit and Run Section 161 of Motor Vehicles Act. Apart from it always maintain your car in a pristine and workable condition and insurance from time to time



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