Family Car Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Family car doctrine is a principle that extends the liability to the owner of a car for any damage caused by a member of the family. This principle is mostly applied in cases of damage caused by negligence making the owner of the car legally responsible for the damages caused by the family member. According to this principle when a car is maintained by a person for his/her general use or for the convenience of his/her family, then the owner is liable for negligence of the member of the family. Thus the person using the car acts as an agent of the owner, who is the head of the family. This principle is of less relevance in most of the states in the country. But in few states liability is imposed on the basis of this doctrine. For the application of the doctrine the following things need to be proved, they are:

1. vehicle was owned, provided, or maintained by the parent or the head of the family;

2. owner had control over the use of the vehicle;

3. vehicle is customarily used for the conveyance of family members and other family business;

4. vehicle was being used by a family member at the time of the accident.

This doctrine is also known as the family purpose doctrine or the family automobile doctrine.