Who May Be Liable for an Accident Involving a Borrowed Vehicle?
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who borrowed a vehicle from someone else, you may be wondering how to file an injury claim with the insurance company and may not even be sure which person’s policy to do it under.
Our Brunswick car accident lawyers may be able to help you determine who is liable for the accident so you may recover compensation for any medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages associated with the crash.
Does Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?
Generally, liability insurance follows the car and not the driver, unless the damage caused by the crash is greater than the policy limits. If the liability policy that covers a vehicle, also known as primary insurance, is not enough to cover your injuries or damages, then you would file your claim through the driver’s insurance, known as secondary insurance, if there is one.
For example, say you are involved in an accident with a borrowed vehicle that has a $25,000 liability insurance policy and the driver, who is not listed on that policy, has their own liability coverage of $30,000. Your claim would be filed through the primary insurance, which is the $25,000 liability coverage until that limit is exhausted. If your injuries surpass the primary insurance limits, you may still be able to file a claim through the driver’s liability coverage as secondary insurance.
Who is Covered?
One of the most important questions about accidents with borrowed vehicles is who has the authorization to drive since this is what helps determine liability.
Auto insurance policyholders can have additional authorized drivers on their policies who are covered in case of an accident. This generally includes family members such as a spouse, parent or child. If an authorized driver on the insurance policy is the one driving the vehicle at the time of the accident, the insurance should step up to pay for any injuries or property damage.
However, if the person who borrowed the vehicle is not listed on the insurance policy the claim may be denied since the driver is not covered. If he or she has liability insurance, you may be able to file your claim through their policy.
If the vehicle was being driven by a person who did not have permission to drive it at the time of the crash, then the owner, and his or her insurance, is probably not liable for any injuries or damage caused by the driver. This is generally what happens in cases involving stolen vehicles.
Negligent Entrustment Laws
There is a general understanding that if you let someone drive your vehicle you are doing so because you trust the person to act and drive responsibly. However, that is not always the case. That is why there are laws against letting someone who is not fit or competent to drive borrow a vehicle. These laws are known as negligent entrustment laws.
Negligent entrustment is when someone allows another person who is either unlicensed, under the influence or has a history of negligent driving to borrow their vehicle.
Georgia allows claims to be filed against negligent vehicle owners who entrust their vehicles to someone who is incompetent or unqualified to drive. To file a claim against a negligent owner, the injured party must prove the following:
- The vehicle belongs to the person who let an incompetent driver borrow it.
- The driver who borrows the vehicle is incompetent and unfit to drive a vehicle safely.
- The person had knowledge that the driver whom he or she entrusted is incompetent.
- The incompetent driver was the person who caused the accident that resulted in your injuries.
What if the Vehicle that Caused the Accident Belongs to Me?
If you lent your vehicle to someone else and he or she caused an accident, you may be liable for injury and property damage caused by the accident. Your liability insurance should cover a claim brought on by the injured driver or passengers in the other vehicle or vehicles involved in the accident.
Having liability limits higher than the required state minimum is generally a good idea in case you are confronted with a scenario like this.
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If you or a loved one were injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a driver who borrowed someone else’s vehicle, you may be eligible to recover compensation for things such as lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Our attorneys have recovered millions for injury victims in the past and are prepared to help you recover the compensation you need. We do not charge you anything up front and only get paid if you do.