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When Someone Else Gets in an Accident in Your Car

There are many reasons why someone else may drive your car, but what happens when they get into an accident? To find out what happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident, we need to take a look at liability, insurance coverage, and other factors affecting a potential claim.

Understanding Car Insurance and Liability

Traffic accidents bring a world of worry and trauma when you’re the driver, but things get a little more complicated when someone else gets into an accident in your car. To navigate this situation, it’s important to understand insurance coverage and liability:

  • Insurance coverage. This refers to the extent of your car insurance policy. The amount of coverage you have for third parties driving your car will depend on your specific policy. Even if the person driving your car was at fault, your insurance coverage may still cover the damage.
  • Liability. This is who is legally responsible for the accident. To determine fault, a vehicle accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation.

In the majority of cases, car insurance coverage extends to permissive driver cover, meaning any licensed driver with permission to operate your vehicle would be covered. However, this isn’t always true, so it’s important to spend time understanding your insurance policy. If you need help with this, a car accident lawyer San Diego will break this down.

What Factors Affect Liability When Someone Else Drives Your Car?

When you give permission for someone to drive your car, and they get into an accident, there are still certain scenarios where you may be held liable for an accident they cause. Here are some key factors to look out for:

  • Driver’s competency. If you knowingly allow an intoxicated or reckless driver, or someone with a suspended license, to use your car, you may still be held partially liable on the grounds of negligent entrustment.
  • Permission granted. If someone stole your car and got into a collision, you wouldn’t be held liable.
  • Driver’s actions. If the driver of the car was ignoring traffic signals, speeding, driving distractedly, or breaching any other safe driving protocols, they are likely to be held fully liable.
  • Restrictions on use. Did you give any limitations to the use of the vehicle? For example, is the vehicle only supposed to be used for personal reasons? If the driver breached these limitations, it could impact your liability and their coverage.

Determining liability is complex, especially when you take different state laws into account. We recommend using a car accident attorney San Diego. Starting with a free consultation, we will fully investigate the accident and answer any questions you may have.

Common Scenarios and Insurance Coverage

Having a firm understanding of how your insurance company handles different situations is a good idea, but this can be confusing at best. Let’s take a look at two typical scenarios and how they may be handled by insurance coverage.

  1. You give a licensed friend permission to drive your vehicle, and they get into an accident. In our experience, as long as there’s suitable permission and the friend has a full driver’s license, insurance policies will likely cover the accident. In most cases, insurance policies will cover property damage and injuries caused to other drivers in the accident. However, if your friend was under the influence, your policy may exclude coverage.
  2. You loan your car to someone with restrictions and the borrower violates them, and they get into an accident. Depending on how well you communicated the restrictions, your insurance company has every right to deny coverage. When you lend with restrictions attached, be sure to keep well-documented records of instruction delivery – and check for understanding.

These are just a couple of examples – each case varies depending on specific policy. Speaking to a car accident injury lawyer will help you understand your rights and entitlement to compensation.

What to Do After Someone Has an Accident in Your Car

The events after an accident involving someone else driving your car can be chaotic, but it’s important to take the correct actions as quickly as possible. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Contact your insurance company in the first instance. Report the accident immediately, even if the damage appears minor. When discussing the incident, don’t go into detail because your words can be used to deny the claim.
  • Gather information from the scene. Collect a copy of the policy report, the contact information of all drivers, and the names and details of potential witnesses.
  • Document everything. If you have the opportunity, take pictures of the crash site including damage to your vehicle and the surrounding area.
  • Consult with a lawyer. To help understand liability and insurance coverage, get in touch with Karns & Karns Personal Injury and Accident Attorneys.

Following the steps above will give you protection and lead to a smoother claims process.

Tips for Protecting Yourself as a Vehicle Owner

Lending your vehicle to someone you know may feel as though you’re doing them a simple favor, but it can come with severe costs if they get into an accident. To protect yourself, the person borrowing your vehicle, and other road users, here are some tips:

  • Think before you lend. Only lend your vehicle to trusted people with a full license and clean record.
  • Keep the car well-maintained. If an accident is caused by poor vehicle maintenance, you are likely to be held fully liable.
  • Review your insurance policy. Check your policy details for information on permissive driver coverage and any exclusions.
  • Communicate clear limitations. If you lend the vehicle with restrictions in place, be very clear and document communication – you may need to evidence this during the claims process.
  • Consider extending your policy. Depending on your insurance provider, you may be able to add temporary drivers for a fee.
  • Keep vehicle documents secure. Keep car registration, insurance policy, and proof of maintenance documentation in a safe place.

If someone else gets into an accident in your car, whether you permitted the driver or not, contact our motor vehicle accident lawyers to get the compensation you deserve.