Who is Responsible When Your Friend Crashes Your Car?
Determining fault after a car accident can be difficult enough without the complication of a borrowed car situation. For that reason, both insurance companies and attorneys recommend that you don’t loan out your car super often. That said, it’s completely understandable that another person will be driving your car with your permission at some point in time. Whether it is a friend who has a car in the shop, or your mother who is in from out of town, lending your car is a reasonable thing to do as long as you understand how the insurance situation works.
The first thing you need to understand is that your comprehensive or collision coverage for your vehicle will follow your vehicle. If you lend your car to someone, and they crash it, your own car insurance will still kick in to cover the property damage. Like almost every rule that has anything to do with the law, there are exceptions to this. The main exceptions are children that live with you, regular drivers, and drivers that would give rise to a negligent entrustment claim. Children that live with you should be added to a vehicle on your policy or your insurance company will assume that you are simply trying to keep your premiums low by not covering your kids. Regular drivers is anyone that you let drive your car all the time. The idea is that if someone is a regular driver of your vehicle, they should be added to the policy so the insurance company can make some money for offering coverage to them. The negligent entrustment exception is for situations where you clearly should not have loaned that person your vehicle. This applies in situations where you lend your car to someone with a suspended license or someone that is intoxicated. The property damage to any other vehicle will likely also be covered by the owner’s insurance, not the driver’s.
If the person that you lent your car to causes a serious car accident that causes bodily injury to someone else, the liability policy of the owner of the car will have to step in to settle the claim first as long as the driver was a permissive user. When a liability claim for bodily injury becomes at issue, the coverage still follows the car as long as you gave that person permission to drive. That is why it is a big deal to lend out your car. Bodily injury claims can be very expensive and if your policy limits cannot cover the damages, you may be on the hook personally. A driver is required to have a current car insurance policy in the state of Utah before they get behind the wheel of a car. In Utah, drivers are required to have Personal Injury Protection added to their policy. This policy pays the first $3,000.00 in medical bills for the driver no matter who is at fault. That part of the policy also follows the vehicle because the policy was written for a certain vehicle. That means that if your friend was hurt while crashing the car that you lent him. Your insurance will be the first to step up to pay his medical bills.
Keep in mind, that both parties’ insurance premiums will likely go up if claims are filed. Your insurance will not let you off the hook just because you were not driving. They will still consider you more of a risk than you were before because they now believe that you lend your vehicle to drivers who get into accidents. Sometimes lending out your car is a must, but avoid it when possible. If determining fault is an issue in your car crash, set up a free consultation with the best injury attorney you can find.
This article is offered only for general information and educational purposes. It is not offered as and does not constitute legal advice or legal opinion. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this article without first seeking the advice of an attorney.