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The Driver of the Car that Hit me wasnot the Owner.  Can I Still Recover from the Car Owner’s Insurance Company? 


     Iowa Code §321.493 is known as the Owner’s Liability Statute.  It provides that in all cases where damage is done by any motor vehicle by reason of negligence of the driver, and driven with the consent of the owner, the owner of the motor vehicle shall be liable for such damage.

     As stated in the code provision, the vehicle must be driven with the consent of the owner for liability to exist.  For example, if the car were stolen, the owner would not be liable for damages caused by the driver.

     It has been recognized that when ownership is admitted, a rebuttable presumption is created that the vehicle was driven with the owner’s consent.  This consent can be express or implied from the circumstances. 

     Questions about consent can arise when the person with permission to drive gives yet another person permission to operate the car.  In these instances, the issue of whether §321.493 holds the owner liable will turn on the particular facts and circumstances of the case. 

     In most cases, the liability insurance policy that covers the owner of the vehicle will be available to compensate those injured by the driver of the vehicle. 

     For those who allow others to regularly use their vehicles, it would be wise to make sure that the car is well insured.  The Iowa Owner’s Liability Statute may create liability even if the owner did nothing to cause an accident.

           

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