Who Is Liable in a Borrowed Car Accident?

Car insurance policies have a lot of fine print. People often think the policy is attached to the driver, but it’s actually the vehicle. Your auto insurance is the primary coverage if someone you lend the car to gets into an accident. This rule applies in many circumstances, but there are exceptions, which is one area a Los Angeles personal injury attorney can clarify if a crash and injury occurred.

If you lend a car to a friend or a roommate, and they are in an accident, your liability coverage would pay for damages and, if your policy’s limits are exceeded, that person’s coverage would be secondary. You would have to file a claim with your insurance company after the accident. It would also be your responsibility to pay the deductible and cover any rate hikes thereafter.

What Are the Rules?

It’s important to know when you are liable and when you might not be. The general rule is if you gave the person permission to drive the car, and they cause an accident, you are liable for any damages. The exceptions include:

  • An excluded driver: If you have excluded a family member from the policy, and they borrow and wreck the car, your claim will be denied. In some cases, however, you might not be held liable for damages if you didn’t grant the excluded driver permission.
  • Unlicensed/incompetent drivers: In the event you let someone known to be unlicensed, incompetent, or irresponsible drive, an insurance claim can be denied. You may also end up being accused of and sued for negligence.
  • Non-permissive use: You might have to pay, because it can be difficult to prove whether you granted permission or not. However, you are usually not liable in cases of theft, unauthorized use by a friend or family member, or an uninsured friend drove your car without permission.

Letting an impaired person drive a vehicle is another story. You would be at least partially liable if you lent them your car knowing they were drinking, drowsy from over-the-counter drugs, under the influence, or have a history of drinking and driving.

A vehicle defect is a unique case. An accident caused by a car problem is rare, but you could be liable if you knew or should have known about the problem that caused it. Such is the case even if someone else was driving the vehicle at the time.

Call a Car Accident Attorney

If another driver caused an accident with your vehicle, and you may or may not be liable, you can depend on a trusted Los Angeles car accident attorney to determine the exact cause.

Was the driver at fault or does an exclusion apply? If you were injured by someone who borrowed an owner’s car, the Los Angeles personal injury attorneys at The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani (serving Los Angeles County, Orange County, and all of California) can get you compensated for injuries and financial damages. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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Los Angeles

serving southern california


714 W. Olympic Blvd.
Suite 300
Los Angeles, CA 90015


(888) 508-5085