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What You Should Know About Liability for Crashes Involving Borrowed Vehicles

woman holding out key fobThe last thing you want to happen when you let someone borrow your car is for them to get into a crash. You do not want the driver to get injured, the other party hurt and there are questions of your liability as the car owner.

You may also be on the receiving end of a crash and wonder if the car’s owner has liability for your damages.

Below, our experienced attorneys car accident lawyers in Bloomington discuss what you should know about car crashes involving borrowed vehicles, whether you were the one borrowing the car, letting someone else borrow your car, or you were hit by a driver who borrowed a car.

If you have questions about legal options following a car crash, call TSR Injury Law today. The initial consultation is 100 percent free and comes with no obligation to take legal action.

Are You Lending Your Auto Insurance When You Lend a Car?

Yes and no. Certain types of auto insurance coverage follow the car, while others follow the driver. For example, these coverages usually follow the car:

  • Bodily injury liability
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
  • Property damage liability

If you allow someone to borrow your car and that person causes a crash that injures other people, your bodily injury liability is first in line to cover these damages. Your insurance will also be used to pay for damage to other vehicles. Your collision or comprehensive coverage will be used to pay for damage to your vehicle.

However, the driver who borrowed your car would use his or her personal injury protection coverage (from their car not involved in the crash) to pay for his or her medical bills. Depending on the coverage language, the driver may also have to use a resident relative's PIP coverage for bills and wage loss reimbursement.  If the driver owns a separate car, their policy will also be second in line for the victim’s bodily injury claim if they exhaust the owner’s coverage.

Giving Permission to Drive Your Car

While each situation is unique, the general rule is “initial permission” equals liability.  If you give basic permission to use your car, liability will follow even of the permission is abused.  For example, if you allow your friend to borrow your car to get dinner and explicitly say “only get the food and come back” but the friend drives to Wisconsin and causes a crash, your insurance is on the hook.

If you are going to allow someone to borrow your car for an extended period or have access to the vehicle often, consider adding that person to your car insurance. That way you can be sure you will have coverage for damage to your vehicle.    

If you keep your insurance company in the dark, there is an outside chance your policy is voided and coverage eliminated. Insurance companies charge based on risk and if there are multiple drivers they are not aware of, they may see you as too much of a risk because you chose not to inform them.

The same rationale applies if your boyfriend or girlfriend moves in with you.  You should inform the insurance company if you think your significant other may borrow the car from time to time. A good rule of thumb is that any member of your household who has a driver’s license should be listed on your car insurance policy.

Remember that if you exclude someone from your policy, your insurance will not apply if they drive your car and get into a crash. That means if they caused the crash, you may be personally on the hook for damages others suffered.   

What if Your Car was Stolen or Taken Without Consent?

If your car was stolen and involved in a crash, you usually will not be held liable for damages that are caused. Depending on the coverage in your policy, your insurance may pay for damage to your vehicle. This should also be the case if your vehicle was taken without your consent.

However, the insurance company for the other driver involved in the crash may look for reasons to claim you did give someone permission to use your car.  More importantly, if you failed to keep the vehicle safe from theft you may also be blamed.  The common Minnesota example is keeping your car running, keys in and door unlocked in the winter when you run inside a store.  If your car is stolen, it could very well be your “fault.”

Another common example, if you specifically told someone not to drive your car, but you left the keys where you knew they could easily be found, the injured party will argue you are still liable. They may have a strong argument if the person who drove your car has a history of reckless driving or even drunk driving. The insurance company may cite the principle of negligent entrustment, saying you should have taken greater care to prevent this person from operating your car.

Protecting Yourself When Lending Your Car

The best rule is to not let others drive your vehicle.  If you must, make sure you only lend your car to people you can trust.

If you are concerned about a friend or someone who lives with you driving your car without your permission, keep the keys with you. Avoid leaving keys in a place where they are easy to find.

Give Us a Call to Discuss Legal Options After a Crash

Choosing an attorney is one of the most important decisions to make after getting injured in a car crash. You do not want to rely on the insurance company to offer fair compensation for your damages, even if it is your own insurance company.

For more than two decades, the experienced attorneys at TSR Injury Law have been securing millions on behalf of our clients. We have helped many crash victims secure the compensation they needed to move forward.

There are no upfront fees or legal obligations. We are not paid unless you get paid.

Call TSR Injury Law Today. No Upfront Fees. (612) TSR-TIME  

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