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Stolen Car or Implied Consent? Look Beyond the Driver's Seat (NJ)

November 13, 2020

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<p style="text-align: justify;">During a night of imbibing, Galvan-Martinez asked his good friend Munoz for a ride to work the following morning. Munoz responded non-committedly, stating that he would “if he had time." A few drinks later, Munoz walked home, leaving his keys behind. The next morning Munoz received a phone call from his friend advising that he had driven Munoz’s vehicle to work and been involved in an accident.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Munoz’s insurance carrier High Point denied coverage for the accident, finding that Galvan-Martinez was not a permissive driver of the vehicle. They pointed out that Munoz never affirmatively gave Galvan-Martinez permission to use the vehicle, and Galvan-Martinez was not even a licensed driver. The trial court agreed.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">On appeal, the <a href="">New Jersey </a>Appellate Court disagreed with the trial court’s decision, noting that Munoz knew he left his keys with a good friend, knew that his friend needed a ride the next day, and did not retrieve his keys the following morning. Accordingly, a juror could reasonably conclude that Galvan-Martinez had implied permission to use the vehicle.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">This case confirms that the court will view the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff when assessing whether a driver had implied permission to use a vehicle.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Please contact <a href="">Heather Aquino</a> with any questions.</p>


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