An adult driver hit-and-ran someone who found the car later at the driver's mom's house. Her son had been driving but she owned the car. She talked to the police and gave them the insurance card, which had expired 9 months prior. If one sued the son in small claims court for the damages, could one sue her also? She has more assets so a victim could be fully paid sooner than just from her son.

UPDATE 1: Jurisdiction is Bonneville County, Idaho; inside Idaho Falls city limits.

Re: previous question, I didn't word it well, and some users edited it to remove information which caused answers that weren't applicable anymore. I decided to narrow the focus and try asking again.

UPDATE 2: Damages are about $5k. A cop told me later that she's alo responsible for costs because she didn't have insurance, that's where I got the idea about sueing her also. I don't know if he's wrong.

Idaho is an at-fault state and requires proof of $25k/$15k bodily and property liability insurance before registering a car. He lives with her and drives her car; therefore he should be on her insurance. They also check VIN every two months with a nationwide database to ensure they still have insurance. Violations include suspended car registration, license suspension, and required SR-22 insurance (expensive). Second violation is up to six months jail and up to $1k fine.

The mom has court history of not having car insurance, but they've been dismissed. It's odd she didn't have card in car each time, so she either she really does forget to put in her car, or she buys a policy the same day as citation to prove to court she was insured and get charges dismissed.

I think she does have insurance, but gave officer cancelled card so she only pays $75 ticket, her rates don't go up, and her son can make payments over several years. I hope by suing her with son, that I can force her to bring forth the insurance or risk a lien on her house, force sale of valuable items, etc.

That's why I'm hoping to include her in lawsuit.

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    I think this can probably be answered without giving legal advice, but we'd need to know what jurisdiction it refers to.
    – Ryan M
    Apr 27, 2021 at 3:20
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    edited to make question hypothetical Apr 27, 2021 at 5:18
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    Previous question about the same case. It's in Idaho. law.stackexchange.com/questions/64130/… Apr 27, 2021 at 6:17
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    In most jurisdictions, Hit and Run usually flips the fault of the crash to the person who fled the scene, even if the facts of the case were the driver who remained would have been at fault.
    – hszmv
    Apr 27, 2021 at 11:57
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    @KirkHings - this site requires a different style of question becasue it is not illegal to give advice on DIY, interpersonal skills, chess, etc. but can be illegal regarding how to apply the law to a specific person's situation. Apr 28, 2021 at 3:32

3 Answers 3


You can't sue her for not having insurance. You sue for the damage you suffered.

You can name her as a defendant alongside her son on the theory that she contributed to the accident by letting her son use the car, and then let the judge sort out who gets landed with the liability. Depending on the rules in your jurisdiction you might have to pay her travel expenses and/or lost wages if the judge decides she wasn't to blame (and the same for her son, but that sounds like a slam-dunk).

However you might be better off going for victim restitution. That way the order gets made as part of the criminal case against the son. Less hassle for you, and the state authorities are responsible for actually getting the money out of them.

Edit: It turns out that Idaho has the Family Car Doctrine in its law, so the mother is legally liable for her son's accident (thanks to ohwilleke for the pointer).

  • Mom has many more assets than her 25 year old son. Restitution from son will take years. Restitution including Mom can be resolved much faster (hopefully). Apr 28, 2021 at 3:58
  • But the fact that she has no insurance is causing me damages. So was she legally required to have insurance? Or was she legally required to make sure that nobody without insurance drives the car?
    – gnasher729
    Apr 28, 2021 at 11:45
  • @gnasher729 Turns out you can sue the mother. legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title49/t49ch24/… I've also added this to the answer. Apr 28, 2021 at 13:11
  • @gnasher729 Yes, it's an at-fault state and requires proof of $25k/$15k bodily and property liability insurance before registering a car. County DMV also checks VIN every two months, using a nationwide database to ensure they still have insurance. Driver's are notified if they don't have any, and if they don't provide proof of insurance within 30 days, car registration is suspended. Other violations include license suspension, and required SR-22 insurance (expensive). Second violation is up to six months jail and up to $1k fine. Apr 28, 2021 at 17:07

Only rarely can the victim sue for not having insurance in most, but one can can sue mom for damages under the Family Car Doctrine in Colorado and nineteen other U.S. states, which holds householders vicariously liable for all torts caused using cars that are part of their household. Some other jurisdictions impose vicarious liability on a car owner and it is usually a crime to fail to carry sufficient insurance (which doesn't put money in the victim's pocket).


Insurance for New South Wales

Compulsory Third Party (CTP)

Compulsory injury insurance that is required before a motor vehicle can be registered. Although called “third-party” it does provide more limited coverage for an at-fault driver who is injured.

If someone is driving an uninsured vehicle, the person is committing an offence (as is the owner for allowing the driver to drive) but the insurance cover is still available with the state as the insurer of last resort. They can recover from the owner or driver.

Third party property

This covers damage done by the vehicle to other people’s property.

It is not mandatory.


This covers damage done by the vehicle to other people’s property as well as the vehicle itself.

It is not mandatory.


The at-fault driver is responsible for property damage they cause.

The owner of the at-fault vehicle is also liable if the driver is an agent of the owner.

A person may be an agent of the owner, if the owner:

  • asks the driver to drive their car for the owner's purpose
  • has some control over how the driver uses their car.
  • Curious why this was downvoted? It seems to describe the insurance and law issues in the case. See updated question. Apr 28, 2021 at 2:36
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    @KirkHings: I didn't downvote, but note the tag at the top: It describes how the insurance and law issues would be if you lived in New South Wales. Apr 28, 2021 at 5:06
  • Oh. I didn't see that. Thank you for pointing that out. Apr 28, 2021 at 5:07

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