It is reported that there are more than 700,000 motor vehicle thefts each year in this country. Knowing what to do when your car is stolen or broken into is important. Not handling the situation correctly can cost you in the long run, especially if the thief happens to be involved in a serious or fatal accident with your car.
What To Do When You Are a Victim. As soon as you realize that you are a victim, you should make three phone calls. Contact the police and file a report immediately. This prompt response is especially important when the vehicle has been stolen. You must call the police first before contacting the insurance agency. After you have filed a claim with both, speak to a Saint Petersburg personal injury attorney. There are a number of reasons why you may wind up needing this legal assistance. It can be beneficial if damage is done to the vehicle, if it is never found, if it is involved in a serious or deadly accident, or if the insurance company refuses coverage.
In addition to those three calls, you should contact the bank or lending institution if the vehicle is leased or financed.
Avoid Becoming a Victim. If your car hasn’t yet been stolen, be sure that you are doing all that you can to keep it safe in St. Petersburg. Don’t leave your keys in your car. If you fear locking yourself out, then get a “credit card key.” Be sure that a friend or loved one has the spare set in a safe place, in case you need someone to come save you.
Park your car in a safe place. Attended or otherwise busy lots are a lot safer and less prone to thievery than deserted or dark lots.
Be sure you aren’t enticing thieves with visible cell phones, GPS systems, and other devices. If you must leave them in the car, be sure that you are tucking them out of sight.
If you are regularly parking in high risk areas, then definitely consider a car alarm system that will further deter thieves.
Understanding Insurance. It is important to understand how insurance looks at car theft. First of all, having auto insurance doesn’t guarantee that you are covered for theft. You must have comprehensive coverage, which is what pays for any damage to a vehicle not involved in an accident. This insurance coverage will help you cover the repair expenses or costs to purchase a replacement vehicle. The loss of belongings inside the vehicle will have to be filed with a different insurance policy. Your possessions inside the car will generally be covered by a homeowners’ insurance policy or renters’ insurance plan.
A vehicle that is stolen and then involved in a serious or deadly car accident can cause legal trouble for you. The Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine instituted in Florida holds the owner of a vehicle responsible for the actions of the driver. This, however, does not apply when the car has been stolen. It must be proven that the car was taken without permission, though. This is yet another reason why you should speak to a personal injury attorney. If it is deemed that the vehicle was willingly loaned to the irresponsible or otherwise negligent driver, you could be held liable for any medical and/or repair expenses incurred as a result of an accident, which can get very expensive very quickly.