It feels like the nice thing to do in the moment. When a friend or loved one needs to get somewhere and doesn’t have a vehicle to take, it just seems natural to lend yours out. However, this is not a decision to be made lightly. Lending out a car means assuming a good deal of risk if they are involved in an at-fault accident. This should be thoroughly understood before handing over the keys.
Owner Responsibilities If Other Driver Causes an Accident
You might believe that if a friend does something to cause an accident, he or she would be responsible for the associated expenses. You would be assuming incorrectly.
The only way that your car damage can be covered in an at-fault accident (even if you aren’t the driver) is if you have car collision insurance on the vehicle. Furthermore, your insurance policy will be charged for any related liability damages done. Only if your policy is not large enough to cover all of this damage would the driver’s insurance company be charged.
Rising Insurance Premiums
Whenever you let another person operate your vehicle, you are, essentially, placing your stamp of approval on his or her driving skills. You have taken responsibility for his or her actions behind the wheel.
A surcharge is an added fee tacked onto a typical auto insurance policy, which is assessed when an at-fault accident or a serious driving offense occurs. This fee will not be added to the driver’s policy after the accident mentioned above; it will be tacked on to yours. The insurance company justifies this by suggesting that your likelihood to loan your vehicle makes you a greater insurance risk.
There is a little silver lining, if you want to call it that. Should the driver be ticketed for his or her actions leading up to the accident, then that will not impact your insurance policy. That would play against the person who borrowed the vehicle.
Personal Injury Attorney
Unfortunately, this is where the light at the end of the tunnel dims. If the victim(s) in the accident decides to contact a Pinellas personal injury attorney, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit. Even though you weren’t operating the vehicle, you could find yourself brought to court on one of the following charges:
This is a term that suggests that the person who loans a vehicle to another driver has assumed responsibility for that person’s actions. This often comes into play when a car has been loaned to an intoxicated individual. Even though the owner of the vehicle was not in it at the time, he or she assumes some negligence for having endangered others with the decision to hand over the keys.
Were you ignoring that check engine light? Did you know that the tires really needed to be replaced? Was it past time to have the oil changed? If the cause of the accident is deemed to be mechanical failure, and this could have been prevented with regular maintenance to the car, you could be found negligent. The courts could force you to pay large sums to cover medical expenses, repair expenses, lost wages, and other such damages to the victims of the car accident.
If your vehicle was involved in an at-fault accident in which you were not the driver, contact us today for a free case evaluation to learn your options.