Car accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of who they are and their driving capabilities. In 2016, 490,168 car crashes were reported in California, resulting in 3,482 deaths and 278,585 injuries. Knowing this might make you think twice before lending your car to someone as they can also put your car at risk of car crashes. The question of liability will be a point of discussion as soon as the cost of the settlement comes up.
The Importance of Car Insurance
Car insurance is essential for every car owner to cover damages in the event of an accident. Auto insurance is also required for anyone who wishes to drive in California. Your car insurance must at least cover the following:
- Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: $3,500 minimum
It is your responsibility to get auto insurance for your car. Contrary to what some people may say, car insurance claims are not attached to the person who pays for it. Instead, insurance follows the car it was registered with. But who should pay for damages if an insured friend or acquaintance of yours crashes your car?
A Borrowed Car Crashes: Who is Liable?
Car crashes and other car-related accidents can cause serious damage, from property damage, serious physical injury to wrongful death. So what happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident? When it comes to figuring out who is liable to pay for these damages, there are a few scenarios you can refer to when it comes to car accident liability assuming that your car is insured.
Your Insured Friend Crashes Your Car
If you lend your car to someone who has car insurance and gets involved in a car accident, you as the car owner must pay your deductible if the damage incurred is only minimal and only involves your car. However, if your friend gets involved in an accident that caused severe damage like severe bodily injuries to others and property damage, you’re still the one who has to cover the other car’s driver and passengers for bodily injury, as well as for any property damaged as a result of the accident.
Your legal fees are also covered in the event that you are sued. If the damage exceeds your insurance’s limits, the courts can attach your belongings to recover damages. If your friend has insurance too, the two of you can share the costs in what is known as “pro rata,” meaning you have to pay up to your limits and your friend pays for the rest.
Your Uninsured Friend crashes Your Car
Lending your car to someone who isn’t insured can mean trouble for you, particularly if you exceed your policy limit. If in the previous scenario, your friend’s insurance policy can cover what yours can’t, you are put in an unfortunate spot because the cost of the damages must come from you. There will also be cases when the injured parties can go after you for medical and property damage compensation even if you weren’t directly involved in the accident.
Lending Your Car to an Unlicensed Individual
It is highly discouraged to lend your car to a friend or anyone who is unlicensed or doesn’t have a valid driver’s license. Every driver is liable for anyone they allow to use their vehicle. You can get sued for damages for lending your car to someone without driving experience or privileges.
Your Friend Drives Your Car Without Your Permission
If a person you know drives your car without your permission and happens to get involved in a car crash, it is your friend’s insurance that will cover the damages. However, insurance companies automatically assume that your friend was permitted to use the car unless you have strong evidence to support your claim, from having proof that he or she was drunk driving or showing a text message with you clearly denying him or her from driving your car. In this case, you will have to file your claim as ‘unauthorized use.’
Your Car Gets Stolen and Gets into a Crash
If a thief manages to drive off with your vehicle and gets involved in a crash, you are not held responsible for any damage done to other people or property. Your car insurance policy will also cover the damages from the accident.
Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
Accidents can never be predicted, making it vital for you to take all the proper precautions before having a car or lending it to anyone. Make sure that your car is in decent shape as well as confirming that you are lending your car to someone who is adequately insured and has a valid driver’s license.
If you find yourself in scenarios similar to the ones mentioned above and need assistance with negotiations, settlements, or trials, employing experienced car accident lawyers is your best course of action. Mesriani Law has a roster of hard-working, seasoned lawyers who can make sure you get the best legal assistance around. Contact us for a free consultation today.