Who is Liable in a Car Accident – the Owner or Driver?
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Insurance coverage attaches to the vehicle and its driver. Therefore, a car owner is NOT liable for any accident that a friend, family member, or other borrower causes while operating the owner’s car.
BUT, the car owner’s insurance will provide primary coverage for the person operating the car (if that person had permission to drive).
So, if a car owner lends the car to a friend, and the friend causes an accident that injures somebody else, then the car owner’s insurance acts as primary coverage for the injured person’s recoverable damages.
The owner is not responsible for accidents that follow the theft of the owner’s vehicle or other use of the vehicle without the owner’s consent. The owner’s insurance is liable only for those accidents where the owner authorized or consented to the driver’s use of the vehicle.
Primary and Secondary Insurance Coverage When a Non-Owner Wrecks a Car
If a car owner lends the car to a friend and the friend driving the car causes an accident and injures somebody, the primary liability coverage is the car owner’s insurance policy. The secondary liability coverage is the driver’s liability insurance.
For example, let’s say the car owner has $25,000 in bodily injury liability, but the injured person’s damages are $30,000. The driver’s liability insurance would cover the remaining $5,000.
If you were injured in an accident involving a non-owner who was driving someone else’s vehicle, we recommend speaking with a car accident lawyer. Insurance coverage is more complicated in these situations, and we can help you sort it out and pursue compensation for the full value of your damages.
If the car owner was negligent in allowing somebody else to drive the car, and then the driver causes a wreck that injures somebody, the car owner can be personally liable for negligent entrustment.
For example, if the car owner allows somebody who is obviously drunk to drive the car, and then the drunk driver causes a wreck that injures somebody else, the injured person can hold the car owner liable for their injuries, as well as the drunk driver.
If the person driving the owner’s car did not have permission to drive the vehicle, then the car owner’s insurance would not cover the driver. And, thus, the car owner’s insurance would not cover people injured in an accident caused by the driver.
In cases of non-permissive use (i.e., the driver did not have permission to drive the owner’s car), the at-fault driver’s insurance acts as the primary coverage.
Call the Parrish Law Firm, PLLC for Help After an Accident
There are numerous approaches to prove liability and find insurance to cover injury claims. The best approach is the one that is right for your case.
If you were in an accident and need help pursuing compensation for all your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages, call us. We can evaluate your case and investigate the accident to identify liable parties and help you with your case from start to finish.