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What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car And Gets Into An Accident?

What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car And Gets Into An Accident?

Aug 21, 2020

If someone borrows your car and is involved in an accident that results in an injury, the ensuing personal injury claims process and litigation can be complicated. If you were not in your vehicle when it crashed, you may still be liable. Car insurance companies have standard methods for handling various types of car accident scenarios, such as a crash involving a driver who does not own the car. However, the specific language of your insurance policy will ultimately determine precisely what is (and what is not) covered.

Although car insurance is issued to a person (the policyholder), the actual insurance policy follows a vehicle. If you did not have enough insurance coverage, you may be personally liable for damage to other vehicles, medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. In California, the vicarious liability doctrine allows for someone to be legally responsible for injuries even if they did not directly cause them. There are, of course, exceptions to the doctrine – which is why it’s important to speak to a DLG car accident lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. You should never assume that just because someone borrowed your car and crashed it, everything is covered by your policy.

Experienced Glendale, CA Car Accident Lawyers

If you would like to speak to a dedicated and experienced lawyer regarding a personal injury case, Dordulian Law Group’s team of Los Angeles car accident attorneys is here for you. Our attorneys have more than 20 years of experience handling personal injury and wrongful death claims. We have recovered more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients. We are not afraid to take on complex or unique cases, including claims involving borrowed cars, rental cars, company-owned cars, or third-party-owned vehicles.

Insurance Considerations When Letting Someone Borrow Your Car

If you own a truck, you may have friends who occasionally ask to borrow it when needing to move something (hoping to save themselves the hassle of renting a vehicle). Or, someone may ask to borrow your car for a short trip if their vehicle is being repaired. This may seem like a low risk, no hassle act of goodwill on your part. But if an accident occurs, the ensuing legal claim can become complicated and time consuming. Insurance law has a specific name for allowing a driver to borrow your vehicle: Permissive Use. This is entirely separate from another popular type of “borrowing” option utilized by drivers every day: rental cars. With rental cars, liability for an accident is specified in individual contracts. In most cases, your own insurance coverage will apply as a form of coverage when renting a car.

If your car insurance policy has a permissive use clause, it will typically cover anyone who had permission to drive your vehicle. In other words, if you allow a coworker, roommate, friend, or family member to drive your car – and they happen to be involved in an accident – your insurance policy will probably cover them.

Different insurance companies may have different definitions for what constitutes a permissive driver. If someone borrowed your car without your permission, the insurance policy would not cover that individual in the event of an accident. However, this is not always a stolen vehicle situation. For instance, a common case of borrowing a vehicle without permission involves a child taking a parent’s vehicle out at night without their knowledge. In many cases, permission can be disputed. Such an example can include someone taking a car or truck they had borrowed previously, mistakenly believing that the owner would not mind when in fact they would have objected.

If you do not have a permissive use clause in your policy, you can individually add drivers whom you permit to use your vehicle. You will continue to be the “primary driver” on the insurance policy, however. When you contact the insurance company to add an additional “named driver,” a poor driving record could affect the ultimate price you pay for coverage. Typically, if the driver you wish to add is experienced and has an excellent record, there should not be any additional cost to your policy.

Possible Exception To Coverage: Business Use

Insurance companies have determined that business drivers represent a greater risk for accidents than personal drivers. Personal auto insurance policies may exclude business use like driving to visit clients, transporting goods, or allowing people to travel for a fee (e.g. ridesharing). Your insurance policy may not apply if someone borrows your car for business use. For coverage to extend in such cases, you may need to specifically designate ‘business use’ on your policy if someone will be using your car for business driving activities. If you’re unsure of whether or not you have business use coverage, be sure to check with your car insurance provider to confirm if you need a commercial policy for your driving activity (or for the activity of someone who may be using your car).

What To Do Following A Car Accident If Someone Else Was Driving Your Car

If someone was involved in a crash while driving your car, they may require your assistance following the incident. For example, if the driver involved in the accident happens to be your teenage child, he or she may not have a complete understanding of what steps should be taken in the immediate aftermath. The child may not realize the importance of taking photographs of the scene, and appreciate that, if injured, it’s imperative to visit a doctor immediately. The experience may also be scary and traumatic for a young person.

Don’t wait to file a claim for your rear end accident. Contact our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys online or by phone today.

DLG’s car accident lawyers recommend taking the following steps following a collision:

  1. Preserve Evidence At The Accident Scene: All details of the accident – including the time, location, parties involved, directions traveling, and names and contact information of witnesses – should be collected and documented. Photos of the scene, property damage, and personal injuries should also be taken if at all possible.
  2. Get Immediate Medical Treatment: Visiting urgent care or the emergency room following a car accident can be evidence that an injury occurred as a result of said accident. It is never a good idea to delay seeing a doctor or attempt to “tough it out.” If a personal injury claim is pursued, the insurance company may question the existence or severity of injuries and why they were not immediately addressed following an accident.
  3. Report The Accident To Your Insurance Company: If someone else gets into an accident while driving your car (under your insurance policy) you may be responsible for initiating the claims process, beginning with reporting the accident to the insurance company. This must be done as soon as possible following an accident, once your immediate medical needs have been met. You should only provide the basic facts related to the case. Do not speculate on fault, give an opinion of the severity of anyone’s injuries, or give a recorded statement. Keep in mind that the insurance company is not your advocate. A DLG car accident attorney, however, is your advocate. By reaching out to a DLG attorney to assist you in communicating with the insurance company, you can ensure that your legal rights are protected and your best interests are always served.
  4. Report The Accident To Appropriate Law Enforcement Officials: If law enforcement responds to the accident scene, they will prepare a report. If the police or highway patrol did not respond to the accident and injuries were involved, the accident must be reported within 24 hours. This is your responsibility as the driver of the car under California Vehicle Code Section 20008, which states: “The driver of a vehicle, other than a common carrier vehicle, involved in any accident resulting in injuries to or death of any person shall within 24 hours after the accident make or cause to be made a written report of the accident to the Department of the California Highway Patrol.
  5. Report The Accident To The DMV: Any accident involving an injury or fatality (or property damage exceeding $1000) must always be reported, regardless of fault. A law enforcement report does not satisfy this requirement. See California DMV Form SR-1 for details.

Frequently Asked “What If” Questions About Car Accident Insurance

  • What if someone without a driver’s license borrowed my car? If someone without a license borrows your car and crashes it, they may be cited for driving without a license. Your insurance policy might not cover damage to your vehicle, even if you gave them permission. However, not having a license does not automatically equate to fault. If not having a license is indicative of someone never having previously operated a vehicle, the crash could be a result of their own inexperience. However, if another driver caused the accident, the unlicensed driver may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury claim.
  • What if someone drives my car to another state and is involved in an accident? Car insurance will cover your vehicle in every state. Note: If you have permanently moved to another state, you need to update your insurance policy. If you have two homes in two different states and keep a vehicle in each one, you’ll need separate insurance policies for those two cars (registered with the state in which they are located).
  • What if someone drives my car to Mexico? Mexico is a popular getaway for people in Southern California. The Mexican government actually requires that tourists purchase auto liability insurance from a Mexico-based insurer. Your U.S. based policy may only provide limited coverage for loss or damage occurring within a certain distance from the U.S.-Mexico border. Your insurer may recommend a specific Mexico-based insurer for driving trips to Mexico.
  • Do you have to pay the car insurance deductible? Liability insurance (insurance to cover the other driver’s damage) does not include a deductible. The deductible is your payment for repairs on your own vehicle. So, if someone borrows your car and is responsible for causing an accident, you will have to pay any required deductible. You may work out an arrangement with the driver to pay you directly for the deductible, but this would be made outside of your car insurance policy’s terms.

How Does Insurance Apply When Someone Else Drives Your Car?

What happens when you let someone else drive your car?If someone driving another car was at fault for an accident that damaged your car, but their insurance does not cover the damage to your vehicle, you could be responsible for covering the deductible for your car’s repairs. In California, the minimum property damage coverage is $5,000. This minimum amount is insufficient for most people, as many vehicles on the road are valued much higher than $5,000, and even a small collision can cause damage exceeding that figure. Your collision coverage will pay for damage to your car above the other driver’s coverage. When selecting your policy, keep in mind that you could have to pay a deductible to cover repairs to your own vehicle in this type of situation.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Soft tissue injuries are the most common types resulting after a car accident. In a typical scenario, when a vehicle is rear-ended, the head and neck are thrown forcefully forward and then suddenly backward, like cracking a whip. Even without breaking any bones, this can lead to a very painful injury, causing stiffness, numbness, tenderness, limited range of motion, and severe headaches. Along with whiplash, other common types of car accident injuries include:

  • Concussions
  • Back strains
  • Broken ribs
  • Broken bones
  • Lacerations and scrapes

What happens when you let someone else drive your car?

Any car accident has the potential to have long-lasting effects, while some may even result in permanent disability. The most severe injury types are traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. These injuries can impact someone’s ability to earn a living and even perform daily activities like bathing, preparing a meal, or driving a car. If the accident resulted from the negligent or reckless actions of another, the injured victim may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury claim. This can be obtained through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Although it is possible to recover compensation without a lawyer, the insurance company will try to pay you as little as possible, using their tried and tested tactics to delay, deny, and defend claims. An experienced Dordulian Law Group attorney will ensure your rights are protected, negligent parties are held accountable, and victims are compensated with the largest possible financial damages award.

If you believe you have a personal injury case and wish to pursue a claim, don’t hesitate to contact our award-winning expert attorneys online or by phone today.

California Statute Of Limitations For Car Accident Claims

Like all states, California has a strict statute of limitations that provides a specific time limit to file a personal injury claim or a civil lawsuit for injuries. This is typically two years from the date of the accident. Exceptions apply for any claims involving government entities. Claims against any California government agency (city, county, or state) have a deadline of six months (180 days) after the incident to file a claim. It is always advisable to speak with a DLG lawyer as soon as possible following the accident.

Why Choose Dordulian Law Group For Your Car Accident Case?

Whether you are looking for an attorney to help you or a loved who was injured in a car accident, experience matters. At DLG, we have over two decades of experience representing personal injury victims. People choose us because we get results – recovering over $100 million for our clients over the years. Out clients consistently recommend us to others because we provide caring, compassionate, and responsive legal representation. As soon as you hire us, you will no longer have to deal with insurance companies. We will fight on your behalf to recover the greatest financial damages award possible. Take a moment to review our client testimonials and see how we’ve successfully helped our clients get the care and money they deserve following an unfortunate accident. And, best of all, with our ‘no fee guarantee’ you never have to worry about paying a penny until you win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t pay. At DLG, we believe the Los Angeles and greater California community should have access to free legal advice and quality representation that guarantees you won’t be stuck with out of pocket expenses.

We offer a free, discreet, and no obligation consultation where an experienced lawyer will review your case and help you understand all of your rights under the law. Our team is here seven days a week to take your call and answer your questions. To speak with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at DLG about your potential case, call us at 800-880-777 or contact us online today.

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