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I co signed on a bank loan to finance the purchase of a car for my brother in Florida. Only his name is on title, registration and insurance policy. Would I be liable and can I be sued by another person if he were in an accident?

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You can be sued if some random stranger that you never had any interaction with gets in an accident. There is really no barrier to people suing you if they get it in their head that they want to. Winning that lawsuit is another matter entirely.

Whether you would be held liable and lose the lawsuit depends on whether someone can convince a court that you are partially responsible for a financial loss. Not sure how anyone could possibly successfully argue that in this situation.

  • Well, legal logic sometimes follows its own set of rules. From first-hand knowledge, in Iran around the time of the Revolution, one part of the law on motor accidents was trivially simple to apply: If an accident involved a foreigner, the foreigner was by law entirely responsible for it (even if, as a pedestrian, he had just been killed by a vehicle driven by an Iranian). The legal logic was unassailable: if the foreigner had not been in the country, the accident would not have happened. QED. of course the US legal system would never make such irrational judgements as that......... ;) – alephzero May 22 '16 at 0:12
  • @alephzero This is common 'legal' reasoning in Asia. – Spehro Pefhany May 22 '16 at 0:16
  • This answer is categorically incorrect. Often times, as a cosigner, one is placed on the title and often as primary. Regardless as a cosigner liability does extend to you including if the person loans the car to a friend and they do something negligent. I've talked with a lawyer about this in Florida. – Pete B. Nov 26 '18 at 20:06
  • @PeteB.In this case, the question says that the co-signer is not on the title. – Mike Scott Nov 27 '18 at 12:27
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I am sure that laws differ from state to state. My brother and I had to take over my dads finances due to his health. He had a vehicle that had a loan on it. We refinanced the vehicle and it was in our name. One of our family members needed a vehicle and offered to take over the payment. Our attorney advised us to be on the insurance policy with them and make sure if was paid correctly. We are in Indiana. I know it is hard to discuss finances with family members. However, if you co-signed the loan I think it would be wise to either have your name added to the insurance policy or at least have your brother show proof it has been paid. If you are not comfortable with that it may be a good idea to make sure the bank has your correct address and ask if they would notify you if insurance has lapsed. If your on the loan and there is no insurance at the very least if the vehicle was damaged you would still be responsible to pay the loan.

  • Liability can extend far, and would include a cosigner relationship. This answer is better than the top one. – Pete B. Nov 26 '18 at 20:09
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It might be possible to sue you successfully if someone brought evidence that your brother was absolutely totally unsuitable to drive a car because of some character flaw, and without your financial help he wouldn't have been able to afford a car. So helping a brother to buy a car, if that brother is a drinking alcoholic, or has only a faked driver's license and you know it, that could get you into trouble.

A not unsimilar situation: A rental car company could probably be sued successfully if they rented a car to someone who they knew (or maybe should have known) was disqualified from driving and that person caused an accident.

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