Car crash on a city street at night with police behind it. The legislative intent of the statute is to urge vehicle owners to exercise caution and good judgment when allowing others to use their vehicle and not to hide behind self-serving claims that their vehicle was used without their permission. (Credit: PhotoSpirit/Adobe Stock)


New York Vehicle and Traffic Law §388 (hereinafter VTL §388) holds vehicle owners vicariously liable for any accidents when their vehicle is operated by another person. This liability is rooted in the presumption that vehicle owners consent to the operation of their vehicle by others, and this presumption may only be overcome by a showing of substantial evidence to the contrary. An owner’s consent may be express or implied. Distinguishing between the two is dependent on the facts of each case.

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