Many people living in California allow their family and friends to use their vehicles. Unfortunately, motor vehicle accidents can happen with little to no warning. It can be incredibly problematic and frustrating to discover that someone you let borrow your car got into an accident. In addition, navigating the legal issues that follow most car accidents can be very difficult. Finally, the added factor of someone else driving your vehicle can make an already challenging situation more complex.
At a basic level, when someone else borrows your car, they are effectively borrowing your insurance as well. This is because your auto insurance policy applies to your vehicle, not to you as a driver. So, if you borrow your friend’s car and they borrow yours, the two of you would be effectively trading auto insurance coverage.
Understanding California’s Fault Rule for Accidents
In California, a driver who causes an auto accident is liable for all the resulting damages from the accident. Their auto insurance policy may cover some or even most of these damages, but the total cost of a severe accident may eclipse their available coverage. If you allow someone else to drive your car and they get into an accident, your auto insurance policy will come into play.
Proving fault can be difficult after some car accidents in California. Working with an experienced attorney is not only the best way to accurately establish liability for the damages from a car accident but also the best way to maximize your recovery from an insurance claim or subsequent personal injury claim. Your attorney can help you gather evidence like cell phone records, traffic camera footage, and eyewitness testimony from people who saw the accident happen.
Important Considerations Regarding Car Insurance After an Accident
No matter how a car accident happens, there are a few things all drivers should know about handling the legal aftermath of these situations. First, never accept an insurance claim settlement without consulting an attorney. Agreeing to a claim payout will prevent you from seeking further compensation for the same incident in the future. Agreeing to a payout prematurely may result in much less compensation than you could legally claim. Always consult a lawyer before speaking with any insurance company after an auto accident.
Second, it’s vital to secure as much information as possible from the crash scene immediately after the accident. If the driver of your vehicle is involved in an accident and can do so, they should take photos of the accident scene, their injuries, and the damage to your vehicle. These photos could be crucial to an insurance claim or personal injury claim in the future.
It’s wise to consult a lawyer after any car accident, but this is especially true if liability for the incident isn’t immediately apparent. Your attorney can help you determine what evidence you need to establish fault for the accident, potentially reducing your liability and securing substantial compensation for your damages. In addition, when another person borrowed your car and sustained injuries, your attorney can potentially represent them as well or recommend another local personal injury attorney to represent them.
Is the Registered Owner of a Car Liable for an Accident in California?
If someone other than the registered owner of a vehicle causes an accident while operating that vehicle, the victim has the right to file an insurance claim against the registered owner’s auto insurance policy. Remember that if you allow someone else to borrow your car, you are essentially allowing them to borrow your insurance policy, too. Therefore, you could experience a premium increase or other penalties due to the borrower’s actions.
What Happens When Someone Drives Your Car and Is Not on Your Insurance?
Most auto insurance carriers allow policyholders to add other individuals to their policies, often spouses or other family members. It typically doesn’t matter whether your car’s driver is listed on your insurance coverage; your insurance follows your vehicle. Therefore, no matter who was driving at the time of the accident, your insurance policy will come into play if the driver of your vehicle caused or contributed to causing the accident.
What Happens If Someone Borrows My Car and Has an Accident That Wasn’t Their Fault?
If the borrower of your vehicle has an accident and another driver is at fault, California’s fault rule comes into play. You and the borrower would both have grounds to file claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. You could recover vehicle repair costs, and the injured borrower can seek compensation for their injuries from the at-fault driver’s insurance.
What Happens If an At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Auto Insurance?
The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) strongly recommends every driver purchase under insured/uninsured driver coverage. While not legally required, this form of coverage can be beneficial if you are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. California has one of the highest uninsured driver rates in the country, and adding this coverage to your auto insurance policy is an easily justifiable expense.
Easton & Easton Offers Legal Insurance Help
Hopefully, these answers clarify your questions regarding auto insurance after a car accident when someone else was borrowing your vehicle. Easton & Easton is a full-service personal injury firm with years of experience representing clients injured in car accidents. Our team has successfully represented many clients in cases pertaining to very complex insurance issues, and we can apply that experience to your situation. In addition, if you have legal questions regarding a recent accident involving your vehicle, we can help. Contact Easton & Easton today to schedule a consultation with our team.