When you sell a car, you likely assume that you will not have anything more to do with it once you sign it over to its new owner. Unfortunately, you could face some legal liability if the new owner of the car gets into an accident. This is upsetting and seems unfair, but it can happen. Here are some things you should know about the possibility of being held responsible for an accident with a car you no longer own.
How Can You be Held Responsible for Another Person's Accident?
The entire situation can occur if the new owner of the vehicle did not go to the DMV to transfer the title out of your name and pay the necessary fees. No matter the reason why the new owner failed to transfer the title, you are still the legal owner of the car until the title is transferred.
If the new owner gets into an accident with the registration information still in your name, the insurance agency or an attorney will get the information to contact you from the police report. Your information is still associated with the vehicle's registration, which is included in the police report. From that point, you could face liability for the accident if the new owner of the car was the cause of the accident and caused damage or injury to another person.
Do You Really Have to Pay?
The key is in the details. When you sell a vehicle, you should have paperwork that documents the sale. This includes the bill of sale. This document is signed by both you and the new owner and establishes the sale of the vehicle. The bill of sale includes the make and model of the car, the VIN number, contact information for all parties involved, and the date of the sale.
You should have two copies of the bill of sale that you each sign. This way, you each can have a copy to use as proof of the sale.
In addition, you have the title as proof. When you sell a vehicle privately, you have to sign the title over to the new owner. However, the title goes with the new owner. To have extra proof, make a copy of the signed title, or at least take a picture of it with your phone.
If you have taken all of these steps, you will have proof that you do not own the car any longer and can have no liability for the accident. After you sell a car, you do not have any control over what the new owner does with it once it leaves your possession. Any insurance agent or attorney will easily be able to determine you do not own the car and therefore do not have to pay for the damages caused by the new owner of the car.
Talk to a car accident lawyer for more information.