Till Death Do Us Part – But Do Not Drive My Car!

If you are married it is advised that you leave the title to the vehicle you drive solely in your name.  Quite often attorneys are asked to defend a husband and wife in a lawsuit over an automobile accident/lawsuit where the married couples’ joint assets are at risk.  This is because the husband and wife have placed both of their names on the title to a vehicle which is driven almost exclusively by only one of them.  When there is an accident involving personal injury or death both are sued as owners under Michigan’s Owner Liability Statute.  MCL 257.401 (1). The joint assets of the married couple would not be at risk in such a situation if the couple did not place both of their names on the title as owners.

The same situation applies if you buy a vehicle for your child.  If your name and your child’s name are both on the title as owners of the vehicle, and your child causes an accident involving personal injury, you and your child will both be sued.  The best bet is to have only your child on the title with limited insurance coverage.  However, the insurance can be more costly in this situation.  It is somewhat of a Catch 22 in that regard.  If you are going to keep your name on the title of your child’s vehicle it is recommended that you purchase plenty of insurance and consider purchasing an umbrella policy if you do not already have one.  You should speak with your agent about what is the least expensive way to protect yourself and your child with liability insurance.  (Be assured that there is no inexpensive way to obtain insurance if you have a teenage driver!)

Finally, you should review your insurance policies and coverage at least once a year to make sure they are up-to-date and that you don’t have any changes to them.

For more information on this please contact Gary Rogers at GRoge@fraserlawfirm.com or (517) 377-0828.