Most everyone has been in this situation: You’re hanging out with a friend and suddenly they need to run out for a second, and they ask to borrow your car. You toss them the keys. It’s no big deal to you; you trust them, their driving skills, and you’re certain they’ll return in a few minutes with the car completely intact. While most of the time, your friend will return the car without incident, accidents can (and do) occur.
What happens if someone gets into an accident while borrowing a car? Are you responsible for the damages or is the driver of the car at the time? What if the accident wasn’t their fault?
Figuring out what happens when someone else gets into a car accident in your car can get complicated, but let’s go over everything you need to know.
The Short Answer is that the Owner of the Car is Responsible
Although the owner of the car might not have even been present during the car accident, the owner is in most cases the liable party. Car insurance follows the car, not the driver (contrary to popular belief).
Here is a common scenario: Katy needs her friend Jessica to go to the store and get her more onions for the dish that she’s cooking and allows Jessica to borrow her car. Jessica accidentally runs a red light and sideswipes Amy in her car. Although Jessica caused the accident, Amy would likely file a claim with Katy’s insurer. If Katy has insurance, she should be covered for any damages to her car or to Amy’s car.
If Jessica also has insurance, then her insurance will act as a secondary to Katy’s insurance.
Is the Driver Ever Liable?
There are instances where a driver would be responsible for the accident (as opposed to the owner of the car). One of the biggest exceptions that can get owners of a vehicle in trouble (like our example Katy) is if they have a person who is specifically excluded from their insurance coverage.
For example, if Katy knew that Jessica wasn’t that great of a driver and decided to exclude Jessica from her coverage, then Katy’s insurance company will not be obligated to pay for any of the damages.
But what if Jessica took Katy’s car without permission? It still would be likely that Katy would end up being responsible for the damages because it is often difficult to prove if she didn’t grant permission for Jessica to take her car.
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident where the driver was not the owner of the vehicle in Georgia? You’re going to need a top personal injury legal team that can assist you with this complex situation. Give us a call today at (404) 948-3571 for a free initial consultation.