The general answer is YES! Let’s explore the information I learned from experts. Did you ever give a close friend permission to drive your car? Has a close friend or family member ever asked, ‘Can I borrow your car?’ While it may seem like a casual question, what if they’re involved in an accident? Picture this: your car, sitting on the side of the road, barely recognizable after a huge car crash.
Injuries and property damage likely ensued, and as the car owner, there’s only one question on your mind: am I personally liable for a borrowed car accident? Could you be sued for negligent entrustment? Let’s see what lawyers say about this problem from the research I obtained with a free consultation over the phone from California negligence attorney Michael Ehline, whom I follow on Twitter.
Personally, you may feel like you’re not liable because you weren’t the person driving, but is this really the case? But if a person loans their car to a known reckless driver or a drunk person, most lawyers say this is called negligent entrustment, making you personally liable for what the auto insurance policy covers. To know this and more, we took a look at several Los Angeles car accident law firm websites, including attorney Ehline’s. Let’s have a look at whether you’re liable when someone else gets into an accident with your car from what we gleaned from our initial consultation with a lawyer.
A Car Accident Involving Your Car And Another Driver
According to Los Angeles car accident attorney Michael Ehline, “it depends.” For example, will the owner be responsible if a borrowed car was involved in an accident due to reckless driving? This is one of the most common questions that car owners get. The answer is yes. If a friend or family member crashes your car, you’ll be responsible for paying damages caused by any legal action since you’re the owner. In California, if you gave permission or not does not matter for insurance compensation purposes.
How Insurance Coverage Usually Works
Because the insurance and car are filed under your name, there’s a general presumption that you will take responsibility for the driver’s actions. It’s the same way you’re responsible when your dog bites someone while your neighbor is walking him.
Even though you weren’t there, the dog is still yours. So just as you’ll have to pay for the person’s injuries and take your dog to specific training lessons, you’re liable for damages if someone borrowed your car and crashed it. Your own insurance company will have to pay if you are covered, and vice versa.
Although you may argue that the driver in the car is responsible for the damage, according to the Dangerous Instrumentality doctrine, you’re liable for the driver’s negligence.
According to the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, the owner of a vehicle is liable for the driver’s negligence. This is regardless of whether the owner was driving the car or not.
And if you think that the other driver was negligent, you’ll have to prove a few things. You’ll have to show that they didn’t uphold a duty of a car driver, that their negligence caused the accident, and that you and the person driving your car faced damages under the auto insurance policy. Borrowed car or not, the insurance must cover up the to policy limits.
How Car Insurance Policy Works for Car Crashes
If you have auto insurance, then it’s likely that the policy doesn’t cover anyone besides you. You may assume that the coverage includes other people who live with you, but this isn’t necessarily true. In plenty of insurance policies, people you live with may not be covered unless you’ve specifically listed them as people who may drive your car.
This also applies to family members who don’t live with you but are likely to borrow your car occasionally. According to the concept of permissive use, your insurance will cover the damages of any accident if you’ve given someone permission to drive your car.
That’s because the car insurance policy will always follow the owner of a vehicle and not the driver. So if someone has permission to borrow your car and they get into auto accidents along the way, then your auto insurance coverage will primarily pay for the costs.
Where the Other Driver’s Auto Insurance Comes in
To recap, you’re liable if you lend your car to someone and they get into an accident. Hence, your insurance company will be the main party to cover expenses. This makes it your responsibility to file a claim, pay the extra amount, and pay for an increased rate.
Then, the insurance policy of the driver who borrowed your car will be treated as secondary. It will not be used unless the costs exceed what your own policy will cover. On the other hand, if your car was involved in an accident while being driven by someone who is not covered by your policy, what happens afterward will depend on whether or not they had permission to use your car.
Even if they didn’t have your permission, it could not be easy to prove. Unless you’re able to do so, you’ll be liable for damages. The same applies if you gave them permission to use your car even though they didn’t have coverage under your policy.
Where Your Insurance Company Will Not Cover the Damages
If your car is involved in an accident because of someone who stole your vehicle, you won’t be personally liable. Similarly, if a friend or family member borrows your car without permission, their coverage would serve as the primary coverage to pay for the cost.
And if the friend or family member who took your car without your permission doesn’t have any insurance coverage, your insurance policy will cover the costs, depending on certain factors. For instance, did the friend assume that they had your permission to borrow the car? Or do they live with you? Have you previously given them permission to use your car? Or did you leave the keys out, making the car easily accessible to them?
If there’s no implied permission, then it’s likely that your insurance policy won’t cover the costs. And in the event that you gave someone permission to the other driver and they don’t have a valid driver’s license, you could be sued for lending your car to an unqualified driver unless coverage is specifically excluded. This also implies when you lend your car to someone who drives it while they’re intoxicated. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain how a personal injury claim works and who can be held liable in this situation better than I can.
Get a Case Evaluation
Need help with a car accident case? If a friend borrowed your car without your permission and got into an accident, it can be a pretty stressful situation. And if you’re a victim in a case like this, you can contact expert car accident lawyers after doing your research. Keep in mind we selected California as it is the most populous state. But each state has differing laws. You may want to handle the claim on your own, but it’s in your best interests to have a car accident attorney by your side licensed in your state by the State Bar Assn.
Conclusion – Hire a Car Accident Attorney
With guidance from a trustworthy Los Angeles car crash lawyer, you can successfully deny responsibility for liability in LA, but you may not be able to do so in Houston, Texas. Keep in mind that a free consultation doesn’t constitute legal advice, and it would simply give you an opportunity to explain the details of the case. Make sure there are no upfront fees. A risk-free consultation is the first step.