Hi. I’m Roger Ghai of the Ghai Law Firm, and I practice here in Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Cobb County, Georgia, mostly handling automobile accident cases, and I wanted to talk to you today a little bit about what we call the family purpose doctrine. Now, the reason I wanted to talk to you about this is that there was a case recently in Georgia where a teen borrowed her mother’s SUV. The mother did not know this, and the teen went out and actually killed the other driver. The mother could’ve been sued. Usually, the mother, as owner of that SUV, could have been sued but not under Georgia law. The reasons are this. Number one, there are several requirements for the parent to actually be liable in the suit. Number one would be that the family member that you loaned the vehicle to had your permission. So, the minor child in this case would’ve had the permission. They would have had to have been living with the parent at the time. The vehicle would’ve had to have been lent to the person for the specific purpose of their own pleasure, convenience, or what have you, and then, also, there would’ve had to been a authoritative relationship between the owner of the vehicle and then the person to whom the vehicle was lent out.
In this case, because the daughter did not have the mother’s permission to take that SUV vehicle, the mother could not be sued individually on this. So, that leaves the injured party, that is the estate of this family, really in a very difficult position of having to sue the teenager who, as you probably might guess, has no assets, being able to get what little insurance there is. And then, number two is if there was insurance on the vehicle of the decedent, that is the person who died, you might be able to get that insurance. But if their policy wasn’t very big, the recovery, even though it’s a death case, would not be that substantial if the policy limits were low. For example, in Georgia, the lowest required limits would be $25,000. So, it’s possible that this family was not able to, number one, they were not able to get any money from the at-fault party’s insurance company because there was no permission to drive the vehicle, and number two, then, there might’ve been only $25,000 or $50,000 for the heirs to recover from their own insurance company. But it could be, too, that that vehicle that the deceased person was driving didn’t even have UM coverage.
You’re not required to have UM coverage in Georgia. So, for all we know, there would’ve been maybe no recovery whatsoever for the family in this instance. If you’ve been involved in a case where someone has been loaned a car, and it’s a minor or what have you, another family member, and you’re not certain as to whether you’re going to be able to recover, then please call my office at 770-792-1-