Who is Liable in a Car Accident - the Driver or Owner?
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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).
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 causes an accident that injures somebody else, the car owner’s insurance acts as primary coverage for the injured person’s recoverable damages. 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.
- The injured person’s damages are $30,000.
- After the initial $25,000 coverage option has been exhausted, 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, speak 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.
The Car’s Owner Could Be Liable for Negligent Entrustment
If the car owner was negligent in allowing somebody else to drive their car, and the driver causes a wreck that injures somebody, the car’s owner can be personally liable for negligent entrustment.
For example, if the car owner allows somebody who is obviously drunk to drive their car, and 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.
Explaining Permissible Use
If the person driving the owner’s car did not have permission to drive the vehicle, 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 option.
Do Not Worry About Paying for Damages Caused By Someone Who Stole Your Car
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.
Another Party Could Be Liable for the Car Accident
Your friend might have gotten into a collision while driving your vehicle, but that does not mean that they caused it. The other driver in the crash could hold full responsibility. For instance, a commercial truck driver might have been driving while under the influence and hit your friend (in your car).
Our Team will Fight for Compensation on Your Behalf
There are numerous approaches to proving liability and finding insurance to cover injury claims. The best approach is the one that is right for your case. Whether the car’s driver or its owner is liable in a car crash depends on who was at fault. However, it might be more complicated than that.
Call us if you were in an accident and need help pursuing compensation for all your:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- “Pain and suffering” and inconvenience
- Other damages
We can evaluate your case and investigate the accident to identify the liable parties. We can help you with your case from start to finish.
Your Lawyer will Handle Your Entire Case
We will work to prove liability in your case and seek compensatory damages. Our team will explore all of your options.
There are many ways our car accident lawyers are ready to help you secure a settlement or judgment, including:
- Searching for evidence that supports your testimony
- Helping you follow the statute of limitations imposed by Code of Virginia §8.01-243
- Estimating a value for all your accident-related losses
- Answering your questions
- Empowering you to pursue a fair outcome to your case
- Filing paperwork
- Communicating and negotiating with insurance companies
- Standing by you in court, if the need arises
- Protecting your rights
- Discussing your options with you
Talk to your lawyer about who could be liable for the accident that involved your vehicle. You might face the possibility of having your insurance cover the damage to your vehicle or your friend’s injuries.
Your friend might also be able to secure an award if they were not responsible for the accident.