Every driver in California must maintain auto insurance coverage that meets the state’s minimum requirements. However, sometimes people lend their cars to friends and relatives in emergencies, unaware of how this may influence their auto insurance policy. While many mistakenly believe that an auto insurance policy follows the driver, it follows the policyholder’s vehicle. This means that if someone else drives your vehicle, you effectively allow them to borrow your auto insurance. Additionally, your auto insurance will be impacted if they have an accident while borrowing your vehicle.
Car accidents can easily cause severe injuries and tremendous economic losses. It can be incredibly frustrating to learn that you let someone borrow your vehicle and they had an accident, but an experienced lawyer can help you take a measured approach to the situation. Kreeger Law Firm routinely assists California clients with difficult car accident claims, including those pertaining to substantial damages.
Car Insurance in California
All California drivers must have auto insurance that provides certain liability coverage. A policy must offer at least $5,000 in property damage liability coverage, at least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person, and at least $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a total accident. Drivers are strongly encouraged but not legally required to have underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. This form of insurance takes effect when the at-fault driver does not have any/enough insurance.
Determining Fault for a Car Accident in California
If someone borrowed your vehicle and had an accident, fault for the incident could determine whether your insurance could suffer and who is responsible for the resulting damages. It’s crucial to determine fault for any car accident; an experienced attorney can assist their client with this. Eyewitness statements, vehicle computer data, traffic camera recordings, and other evidence may all be required to prove exactly how a car accident happened.
If the person who borrowed your vehicle caused the accident, they would face liability for any damages caused to others. Injured parties would have the right to file claims against your insurance policy because it applies to your vehicle. Additionally, you would need to resolve any issues lending your car may have caused with your insurance provider. For example, some insurers do not permit policyholders to let others drive covered vehicles.
Once fault is determined, injured parties can file their claims for insurance coverage through the appropriate channels. Some of these claimants could have grounds for personal injury claims against at-fault drivers. This type of civil action is separate from an insurance claim and solely applies to the driver involved in the accident. For example, if you let someone borrow your vehicle and they caused an accident, you could face liability in terms of insurance, but if the injured driver files a personal injury claim, the person who borrowed your car would be the defendant in the case.
What to Expect From an Attorney
Complex insurance claims can be incredibly frustrating. While all insurance companies have a legal responsibility to process claims in good faith, not all insurers meet their obligations. Some intentionally look for any justification to reduce or deny claim settlements. Dealing with an insurance company representative is much easier with legal counsel advising you. In addition, an experienced legal team can ensure the insurer faithfully upholds its end of the policy.
When a car accident results in more than just difficult insurance disputes and an injured driver files a personal injury claim, whoever was driving the car will need defense representation they can trust. Insurance may cover only a portion of the total losses from a serious accident. A personal injury claim is typically the best option for a victim to maximize their final recovery. Your car accident lawyer can assist you with insurance claims and civil court proceedings resulting from an accident, whether you were driving or allowed someone else to drive your car.
Q: Can a Car Owner Be Sued for Another Driver’s Accident in California?
A: If someone borrows another person’s car and causes an accident, it is unlikely for the vehicle owner to absorb fault for the incident. However, if the accident happened because the vehicle owner failed to warn the borrowing driver of a defect or problem with the vehicle, the car owner may be partially liable for the accident.
Q: What Happens to Insurance If Someone Crashes My Car While Borrowing It?
A: If another driver crashes your vehicle after you let them drive it, your insurance will apply when resolving the damages from the incident. California’s fault-based system means the at-fault driver is liable for the damages. So, if the person who borrowed your car caused the accident, the other driver would file a claim against your insurance policy, and your premium rate could increase.
Q: Can I Get in Trouble for Letting Someone Else Borrow My Car?
A: It’s important to review the terms of your insurance policy. It may stipulate that you are not allowed to let anyone drive the vehicle if they are not listed as an alternate driver on your policy. You could also face penalties for letting someone borrow your car who is not fit to drive, such as an unlicensed driver, a driver with a restricted license, or an intoxicated person.
Q: Do I Need a Lawyer If Someone Crashed My Car While Borrowing It?
A: The insurance issues that often result from situations like these can be incredibly difficult to navigate without legal assistance. If you are unsure how to recoup your losses after someone else has crashed your car while borrowing it, or if you are concerned about the consequences of the borrower’s actions on you, it’s vital to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to determine your legal options.
The Kreeger Law Firm has years of experience helping California clients resolve difficult car accident claims, including those that involve unclear liability and complex insurance matters. If you need legal counsel after someone has had an accident in your vehicle while borrowing it, contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can assist you.