Family Purpose Doctrine Definition and Legal Meaning
On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Family Purpose Doctrine, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.
What is Family Purpose Doctrine?
n. Regulation that makes an automobile’s owner responsible for damages to anyone who is injured which the automobile is driven by a family member, either with or without the owner’s permission. This rule of law is applied under the theory that the vehicle is owned for family purposes. Some states use this law instead of requiring a registered owner to be liable for damages caused by anyone who drives his/her car with permission.
History and Meaning of Family Purpose Doctrine
The Family Purpose Doctrine is a legal concept that dates back to the early 1900s. The doctrine holds that the person who owns a vehicle is responsible for any damage that is caused by anyone who drives it with their permission, including family members. This rule was established as a way to hold car owners accountable for the actions of their loved ones who may be less experienced drivers.
Examples of Family Purpose Doctrine
A father allows his 16-year-old son to borrow the family car to go to a friend's house. The son causes an accident and injures another driver. Under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the father is responsible for any damages caused by his son because he gave him permission to use the car for a family purpose.
A mother allows her sister to borrow the family van to transport her kids to a soccer game. The sister causes an accident and damages another car. Under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the mother is responsible for any damages caused by her sister because she gave her permission to use the vehicle for a family purpose.
A married couple jointly owns a car, but only the husband drives it to work. While he is at work, the wife takes the car to run errands and causes an accident. Under the Family Purpose Doctrine, the husband and wife are both responsible for any damages caused by the accident because they jointly own the vehicle for family use.
Legal Terms Similar to Family Purpose Doctrine
Negligent entrustment - the legal concept that holds a car owner responsible for lending their vehicle to someone who they knew, or should have known, was an inexperienced or reckless driver.
Vicarious liability - the legal concept that holds someone responsible for the actions of another person who is under their supervision or control, such as an employer who is responsible for the actions of their employees.
Respondeat superior - another legal concept that holds an employer responsible for the actions of their employees when they are acting within the scope of their employment.