What happens if someone has a wreck while driving my car?
Life happens! This is a common saying that is familiar to many. A good example of this phrase in action would be loaning your car to a friend or family member and finding out they had an accident while driving your car. You may assume that your friend or family member’s car insurance would cover the damages for the accident they caused. However, many are shocked to find out that car insurance policies follow the car itself, not the driver. This is true even if the driver has a different car insurance policy – that policy would be secondary to your policy. The sad truth is that in most cases you and your car insurance would be responsible for the wreck your friend or family member caused while driving your car.
Now let’s take this example one step further. Let’s say you lend your car to your son who you know has a bad driving record, numerous tickets and is likely to cause an accident. Not surprisingly, your son causes an accident while driving your car. In this instance, you and your homeowner’s insurance policy could be responsible under the doctrine of “negligent entrustment” – meaning you acted in an irresponsible manner by letting him drive your car when you knew he was likely to cause an accident. Similarly, allowing someone with no license or a suspended license to drive your car could also result in you and your homeowner’s insurance being responsible for the harm caused by the unlicensed driver.
Additionally, it should go without saying, but never under any circumstances should you allow someone with a history of drug and alcohol abuse to drive your car. The odds of something going horribly awry are very high – leaving you and your insurance policies on the hook.
In some circumstances, you may be responsible for damages caused by lending a defective vehicle to a friend or family member. For example, if you know that the tires on your car are badly worn, are in need of replacement. But you disregard that necessary repair and you allow someone to use your car. While that person is driving your car with bald tires, a tire blows out and causes an accident. In situations like that you may end up being held responsible for damages above the maximum policy limits set by your insurance coverage.
However, all of these above exceptions only apply if someone is driving your car with permission. If a neighbor kid decides to steal your vehicle and take it for a joy ride, you are not liable for any damage they may cause. Nevertheless, it is always good advice to review your insurance policies periodically to know exactly what kind of and how much coverage you have.
Finally, consult an experienced attorney who specializing in insurance, car accidents and personal injuries. The highly trained lawyers at Georgia Trial Attorneys are willing and able to work with you and to help explain your liability if any.