If you get in an accident when you’re behind the wheel things are simple. Your insurance will likely cover the damages. But what if you’ve lent your car to a friend or family member?
It’s not often something people think about when they lend out their car, but it pays to understand what will happen so you can avoid legal issues and possible insurance battles.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident?
If someone else is driving your car and there is a car accident, who is liable and responsible depends on who is driving your car and who caused the accident. In addition, the terms of your auto insurance policy will also make a difference.
The general rule is that the person who caused the accident is liable for any damages. Therefore, if someone else is driving your car and they get into an accident that was caused by another driver, they will be responsible.
The other driver’s liability insurance will cover the following:
- Any property damage to your car
- The legal damages of the person who was driving your car
At this point, we should point out that your car insurance premiums may go up following the crash. This is because auto insurance companies might consider you more of a risk. After all, you lent your car to someone else.
If the person driving your car caused the crash, things are slightly different. Two factors will determine what happens:
- The terms of your auto insurance coverage
- Whether they had your permission to drive your car (we’ll define the difference later)
Typically, auto insurance policies provide coverage to the vehicle, rather than the person driving. This means the liability coverage extends to the person you’ve loaned your car to. However, the precise details of the insurance policy make a huge difference.
There is one common exception, and that’s if the person is driving your car without your permission.
Whatever the scenario, getting legal advice is advisable, preferably from a car accident attorney. They will be able to protect your rights in the case of a personal injury claim.
If you give your permission for someone else to use your vehicle this is known as the “permissive use” doctrine. If this is the case, your insurance coverage generally extends to the driver.
However, should you negligently entrust someone with permission to use your car, you may be held liable.
Non-permissive use can happen if someone borrows your car without asking first or they steal your vehicle. In either case, the driver, not you the car owner, is generally responsible for any accidents. It will be the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage that pays for the damages caused.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Rental Car and Gets in an Accident?
When people rent a car, they either pay for insurance directly from the rental agency or use their own automobile insurance. However, in both cases, the insurance coverage may be limited to specific drivers, such as the person renting the car.
It is legal for a person to drive a rental car that’s in someone else’s name, but only if the main driver has added them as an additional driver.
If the person driving your rental car has not been added as an additional driver, they are considered an unauthorized driver.
Should the car be involved in an accident, the main driver’s insurance company or the rental car insurance may or may not cover the accident because it is considered a contract violation.
Adding someone as an additional driver is a simple enough process. Letting someone drive your rental car who is not an additional driver is not worth the risk.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident Without Insurance?
If the person driving your car is uninsured, they’ve got no financial protection in case of an accident. Your insurance company may still cover the driver, but you may be liable for any damages that exceed your policy’s limits.
If you didn’t permit the person to drive your car, any affected drivers will first turn to their insurance to pay for damages. If the person is uninsured, any affected parties would look to your insurance before their own.
Should the damages be greater than the limits of your policy, any injured parties could come after you or the person driving your car for property and medical damage bills.
Be aware that in many states, allowing an unlicensed driver to drive your car is considered a criminal offense. You run the risk of fines up to $500 or possibly even two months in prison.
What to do After a Car Accident That’s Not Your Fault
If you’ve been involved in a crash on the highway, the first thing you should do is call the police. It’s also important to get medical help and contact your insurance company. If the accident was not your fault, you should also consider suing the other driver’s insurer for compensation.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident in California?
In California, there is a legal concept called “vicarious liability”. This means that a car owner is legally liable when they lend their car to someone else and they are involved in an accident.
Car insurance in California follows the vehicle, not the driver. Therefore, your insurance should cover the accident if you let someone borrow your car.
In some cases, it’s not always clear whether insurance covers an accident, depending on your relationship with the driver. Therefore, it’s advisable to meet with a Californian car accident lawyer to clarify your situation.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident in Florida?
Florida is a no-fault state which means that in the event of a car accident, each driver must file a claim with their separate insurance companies. Whose fault it is makes no difference.
If someone else is driving your car when the accident happens, who is liable for any personal injuries or damages depends on several factors.
If the accident was not the fault of the person who was driving your car, a lawyer may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.
What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident in Texas?
No matter who was driving your car, your car insurance company has to pay for damages. In Texas, the car insurance of the at-fault party is financially responsible for damages. If the person who was allowed to drive your car was at fault, your auto insurance company will pay for the victim’s property repairs and medical bills.