In the state of Florida, when you gave someone permission to drive your vehicle, you can be held liable for the damages caused by them while using your vehicle. So, anytime that you let someone borrow your vehicle, you are accepting risk. However, when that person is an uninsured driver and not equipped with an auto insurance policy, it is your insurance company that will receive the bill should that person cause damage with your vehicle.
What can happen when you lend out your car
Just imagine that your lifelong friend has fallen on a period of back luck. After becoming ill for an extended period of time, he is let go from his job because he has had difficulty meeting the demands during the recovery period. With a lack of income, he is forced to job hunt, and ongoing problems in his marriage are magnified as a result of these added stresses. His marriage dissolves and his car is awarded to his ex-wife. He comes to you when he secures a job interview just a few miles from St. Petersburg, asking to borrow your car to get there. So, trying to be a supportive friend, you let him take the vehicle, and while he is in route to the interview, he comes to a busy intersection. He looks at the oncoming traffic and sees just one large truck waiting to turn left, so he signals and takes the left-hand turn directed by the GPS when, suddenly, a small convertible car that had been waiting behind the truck changes lanes, pulls through the intersection, and slams into the side of your car.
The uninsured driver of your car is likely going to be deemed negligent because he was crossing into the other driver’s lane. The driver of the convertible has his legs pinched by the dash and medics have to pry him out. The passenger in the convertible is not so fortunate. She had been riding without buckling her seat belt and is ejected from the car. The impact on the pavement is intense. Though they are able to save her life, there is a good chance that she will suffer some degree of brain damage.
The costs of this Saint Petersburg accident are going to be immense and your friend, who had lost his car in the divorce, had no reason to be insured. The personal injury attorney for the couple in the convertible is going to seek compensation for their injuries and the replacement of their vehicle. You can expect to find yourself listed as one of the defendants. And, you would also be safe to bet that your insurance rates are going to skyrocket after the insurer foots the bill for the accident.
What if the driver is unlicensed?
Just be thankful that your friend hadn’t let his license lapse. In Florida, allowing an unlicensed driver to operate your vehicle is considered a criminal offense. You could face fines up to $500, or even up to two months of jail time, for loaning your car out to a friend without a license. This is also considered a traffic violation – just as a speeding violation would be – and, therefore, your insurance company may adjust your rates once again. Before you let a friend borrow your car, carefully consider the risks. You don’t have to say no; you could simply offer to give him or her a ride instead.