My husband signed for a car for a friend – against my wishes. Now we get notices for unpaid tolls and parking tickets. What if there is an accident?

My husband signed a car lease for a friend. He told me he was co-signing because his friend had bad credit, although I objected and asked why his friend couldn’t just buy a used car. Then at the last second, my husband told me that his friend’s credit “was so bad he had to take out the whole loan” in my husband’s name only.

Besides the fact that this story doesn’t match, he now gets a second notice for unpaid tolls and parking tickets, and just sends them to his friend and trusts him to pay. He makes sure the lease payments are made monthly and tells me the tolls will send collection notices before reporting to credit collection agencies.

He also claims his friend has insurance, but it doesn’t match. The state in which we are requires the owner to have insurance. He tells me that none of this is my business and that I have no right to be upset. Yet every time another “overdue” envelope arrives, I panic that the savings I’ve worked so hard to put aside could be wiped out in an accident, and the house I wanted to buy with it our excellent credit will no longer be possible.

Can you help me explain to him why it was a very bad idea, and why it is not “It doesn’t concern me”, as he says? What options do I have to get us out of this mess before we lose everything?

Panicked woman

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Dear Panic,

Yes, your husband is responsible for insuring the vehicle, especially if someone else regularly drives that car. If the paperwork says the borrower is to be the primary driver, your husband’s arrangement with that friend is a “straw deal” and is likely illegal as well.

But your problems go far beyond this car. Your husband’s willingness to take out a lease in the name of a friend and endure those collection notices raises many red flags. What does your husband owe this person? Why would he go beyond any reasonable expectation of a friendship to risk his finances and his credit rating in this way? The fact that he did this against your express will and common sense adds insult to injury. Something is wrong with the bigger picture.

As for the legal liability of your husband. According to Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi, a Fort Lee, NJ-based law firm, “As strange as it may seem, you can be held responsible for a car accident involving your vehicle – even if you weren’t present. at the time. In most motor vehicle accidents, the negligent driver is the one who is held responsible for the injury or damage caused. However, in some situations, the law may assign fault to the car owner at the square.

The firm cites the legal principles of negligent retainer and negligent maintenance. The first is to “entrust your vehicle to a person who is unfit to drive”. Negligent maintenance” is the failure to maintain your vehicle properly, posing a safety risk to anyone driving the car. This term “negligent maintenance” is used because you have a duty to other drivers to keep your car in good condition. good working order to minimize the risk of accidents.

Since your husband owns the car and it is driven by someone who does not pay his bills, and creates more costs due to reckless driving and improper parking, your husband is already fully aware that this is a bad situation. You end up with no “why” or action from your husband to solve this problem. Take a closer look, with the help of a lawyer, at your joint/separate finances and explore ways to protect your savings. You also need to take steps to restore your peace of mind.

Otherwise, you’ll be riding in proverbial circles without knowing your legal and financial options. Whatever this potential action is, it should be decided between you and your attorney in the first place. I’m willing to guess this isn’t the first time your husband has made a decision in your marriage that leaves you perplexed. A lawyer should tell you why it’s a bad idea to put up with these kinds of one-sided decisions and what you can do about them.

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