Borrowed Vehicle Accidents
Nobody expects to suffer injuries in a car accident. Yet motor vehicle collisions occur all the time, and they usually happen when a driver is negligent. For example, crashes can take place when a motorist is distracted, alcohol-impaired, or behaving aggressively by speeding or tailgating. In most situations, the party who suffers injuries will need to file a car accident claim with an insurance company to seek compensation, and sometimes that injured party will need to file a car accident lawsuit because of the severity of the injuries.
What happens when the negligent driver was in a borrowed vehicle? In other words, who is responsible for damages in a borrowed vehicle accident, and through which insurance companies can the injured party file a claim? A borrowed vehicle accident lawyer can help.Owner of the Car Typically Responsible for Injuries
We want to explain how responsibility for a borrowed car accident works by using this hypothetical: If Mary lends her car to Jack, and Jack causes a car crash that injures Charlie, who is responsible? In this kind of “borrowed vehicle” hypothetical scenario, the driver of the car will likely be deemed a “permissive user” and the vehicle’s insurance will likely cover Jack’s negligence. In other words, Mary’s car insurance provides insurance for her car. If she lawfully lends out the car to another party like Jack, then Mary’s insurance can provide coverage for anyone like Charlie who is injured in an accident that Jack causes.
However, there may be some exceptions that could result in Mary’s insurance refusing to provide coverage. For example:
- Exclusions: If Mary has specifically excluded Jack from her policy, even if she lets Jack borrow the car, the insurance may refuse a claim caused by Jack’s negligence;
- Unauthorized use: Mary might argue that she did not give Jack or anyone else permission to use her car, and in most cases Mary’s insurance will not be responsible if she has not given permission (unauthorized use can involve cases in which a vehicle is stolen, as well as situations in which a family member or a friend borrows the car without asking its owner for permission);
- Unlicensed driver: If Mary lends the car to Jack knowing that Jack’s driver’s license has been suspended, or that Jack has a poor driving record, Mary’s insurance company might refuse to provide coverage if Jack borrows the car with Mary’s consent and causes a crash.
Under California insurance law, the person who is injured in a borrowed vehicle accident may have the option of filing a first-party claim with his or her own insurance company, or filing a third-party claim with the insurance company of the party who owns the vehicle involved in the accident.
However, if the insurance company providing coverage for the vehicle (Mary’s insurance company in the hypothetical above) that caused the crash will not pay, then the injured party may need to file a first-party claim through her own insurance company. If an insurance payout will not adequately compensate the injured party for her losses, she may be able to file a lawsuit either against the driver who caused the crash, or the owner of the borrowed vehicle under a theory of vicarious liability.Contact a Borrowed Vehicle Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a crash caused by another driver who was in a borrowed vehicle, you should discuss your case with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An advocate at the Walton Law Firm can discuss issues of liability with you, and can help you determine how to move forward with your claim. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.