“If I cosign on a car loan, can I be held liable if the vehicle is in an accident?”
Very likely, yes.
A lot of well-meaning people try to help out family members and friends by cosigning on car loans for them. We hear all the time from people who say “I thought I was just cosigning for the loan. My name wasn’t supposed to be ‘on’ the vehicle. Now I am being sued for an injury accident!”
The problem is that many lenders require all the parties who sign as borrowers to be listed on the title and registration. This is usually done by the dealership, so you might not realize that you are not just guaranteeing the repayment of the loan. You are also an “owner” of the vehicle if your friend or family member is driving it and is in an accident. That means you could be held responsible (even be sued) if “your” vehicle was at fault and someone else got hurt. If you didn’t get your own insurance on that vehicle, you could face financial problems too numerous to describe here if the vehicle is involved in an accident.
Remember: for purposes of this issue, an “owner” of a vehicle is defined as a person who holds legal title to a vehicle. If your name is on the title or registration of a vehicle, that definition includes you. Even if you just thought you were doing someone a favor by cosigning a loan. Even if you have never used the car yourself. Check to see if you are going to be included on the registration and title of the vehicle before you sign. Think hard about whether you want to take that risk! Ask your insurance agent about coverage before you do anything.
Source: MCL 257.37; MCL 257.401
Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.
The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.
We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.
We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.
All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.
At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.