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The family purpose doctrine lets injured plaintiffs hold a car owner liable for an accident caused by one of their family members, even though the car owner wasn’t driving.

The Family Purpose Doctrine and Holding a Car Owner Liable

When a person is injured in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence, they may file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver. The goal of a personal injury lawsuit is to seek and recover fair compensation for the losses the plaintiff has suffered because of the accident. In some cases, however, the driver may have inadequate insurance coverage to pay for all of those losses.

How Lawyers Find More Insurance Coverage in Some Accidents

Injury attorneys often look for all possible sources of insurance coverage when their clients are injured in accidents. When a driver’s policy has low policy limits, the lawyers may then look to see if any additional insurance coverage is available. One thing an attorney may check is whether the driver owns the car they were driving. If they don’t, and the car belongs to a family member, the lawyer may be able to assert the family purpose doctrine to hold the owner jointly and severally liable for the accident.

Explaining the Family Purpose Doctrine

Under Nevada Revised Statute 41.440, a car owner may have vicarious liability for an accident caused by one of their family members. This law applies when the driver is a member of the person’s immediate family, which includes a spouse, sibling, parent or child of the owner. If the driver had either implied or express permission to drive, the owner may be named as a codefendant in a resulting lawsuit. This may allow the injured plaintiff to have access to coverage from both the insurance policy covering the driver as well as the insurance policy held by the vehicle’s owner.

Obtaining Fair Compensation

The family purpose doctrine is in place as a matter of public policy to make certain that people who are injured can recover sufficient damages. By also naming the owner, the plaintiff may be able to recover the amount they need to be fairly compensated for their losses.