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Imagine that you let another trusted person borrow your car. It is not uncommon at all—most people let friends or family members use their vehicle on occasion. No matter how safe, skilled, and cautious the driver, there is always the risk of a crash. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 4.8 million people were injured and 42,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in the United States in 2020 alone.
You may have many questions about how the claims process works if someone else is involved in a collision while driving your car. At Ladah Law Firm, our Las Vegas car accident attorneys want to ensure that you have all of the knowledge and resources that they need to protect themselves and their interests. In this article, we have put together answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about what happens when someone else gets into a crash while operating your vehicle.
If Someone is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident Who is Responsible?
When someone else gets into a crash while driving your vehicle, many of the same laws, regulations, and claims procedures apply to the case. The additional, complicating factor that needs to be sorted out is which insurance policy will bear responsibility for the accident. Here is the single most important thing to know about this issue: In the United States, most car insurance policies follow the vehicle, not the driver. While there is some variation from policy to policy, the overriding standard remains the same: A person who uses someone else’s vehicle (with permission) likely falls under their insurance. Among other things, this means that:
- You are Usually Responsible: When you let someone drive your car, your auto insurance coverage kicks in to handle any claims. If the person you loan your vehicle to is determined to be at fault for an accident, then other parties may make a claim against your policy.
- A Crash Could Go on Your Insurance Record: No one wants an accident on their insurance record. The unfortunate reality is that an accident will cause your insurance premiums to rise in the future. Even if you were not in the vehicle, someone else’s accident could be used against you when calculating insurance rates—assuming you gave them permission to drive your car.
Does the Driver’s Personal Insurance Matter At All?
It could. While your insurance coverage (as the vehicle owner) is generally the primary source of liability, a claim may also be made against the person who you gave permission to use the vehicle. Most often, this happens when a policy limit is reached. For example, imagine that you have a liability policy with a maximum limit of $50,000. Your friend drives your car and is found at fault for the crash with $75,000 in total damages. The victim may pursue $50,000 against your policy and then file an additional claim for $25,000 directly against your friend.
Could Other Motorists or Third Parties Be Held Liable for the Crash?
Yes. If someone borrows your car and is injured in a multi-vehicle collision, a number of different parties may bear liability for the damage. In a catastrophic accident, it is crucial that you know how to proceed so that your rights are protected. Nevada is a fault-based auto accident state. When you’re not at fault for a crash, you should not be held legally liable for the damages. This applies regardless of who was driving your car.
As an example, imagine that your friend was involved in a car accident while using your vehicle for grocery shopping. The accident was caused by a distracted driver who was texting while behind the wheel. Under Nevada’s negligence laws, that at-fault driver (and their insurer) can and should be held legally liable for the resulting damages, including for your friend’s medical care and the damage to your motor vehicle.
What is the Difference Between Permissive and Non-Permissive Use?
With borrowed vehicle accident claims, it is essential to draw a distinction between permitted use and non-permitted use. Here is a basic explanation of the difference between the two:
- Permissive Use: In most cases, auto insurance coverage applies to the vehicle owner, the people they list on the policy, and others who they give permission to use the car. In other words, a vehicle owner is responsible for another driver, assuming that driver’s use is “permissive.”
- Non-Permissive Use: Non-permissive use claims are a little more complicated. For example, imagine that a friend borrows your car without your permission and then causes an accident. Their insurance coverage will be the primary policy for liability, not yours. That being said, if they lack adequate coverage, you may need to file a claim through your own carrier for vehicle repairs.
What Happens If I Got Into an Accident While Borrowing Someone Else’s Car?
If you were driving another person’s car and were involved in an accident, then the situation is reversed. How exactly the legal claims process will work depends on the specific types of insurance policy that they hold and who you hold. That being said, the general rule remains the same: Auto insurance typically follows the vehicle.
In effect, this means that the car owner’s insurance policy will likely provide coverage if you get into a crash—at least assuming that you were a permitted user. Though, it is important to emphasize that the specific terms of the insurance policy always matter. For example, a car owner might have a very basic policy that includes liability only insurance.
Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that the vehicle owners coverage will be insufficient and another party will try to make a claim against you to recover damages. They could potentially make a claim against your auto insurance policy. If you do not have personal car insurance, they may pursue a claim against you personally.
How Do I Protect My Rights After a Borrowed Vehicle Accident?
Car accident claims are complicated—especially so if one of the drivers involved in the collision does not own the vehicle that they were operating. Insurance companies are primarily interested in fortifying their own bottom line. You cannot rely on them for help with the car accident claims process after a serious crash. The good news is that professional guidance and support is always available. A lawyer can protect your rights. Do not hesitate to set up a free, no obligation consultation. Among other things, an experienced Las Vegas, NV car accident attorney will be able to answer your questions, explain the laws, represent you before the insurance company, and take immediate action to protect your legal rights and financial interests.
Contact Our Las Vegas Auto Accident Lawyers for Immediate Help With Your Case
At Ladah Law Firm, our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling complex auto accident injury claims. Your rights and your interests matter to us. If you have any questions about how to handle a situation where another person got into a crash while operating your vehicle, we are more than happy to help. Call our legal team right away 702-252-0055 to set up your free, no commitment initial consultation. From our Las Vegas office.