Am I Liable if My Friend Crashed My Car?

Bowie Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Recover after a Car Accident.

Many people loan vehicles to friends so that they could run an errand. The friend might need to do something important, such as attend a job interview.

Good friends often loan vehicles for short-term use to other good friends and even some not-so-good friends. You might loan your vehicle to a friend for a legitimate purpose. And your friend might get into a car accident while driving it.

Generally, that means your auto insurance should cover the costs of damages and bodily injuries up to policy limits. A deductible might apply.

If your friend has a vehicle that is insured, that policy could act as a secondary level of coverage. Your auto insurance policy would be the primary policy. But your friend’s insurance policy also should apply to whichever vehicle is driven.

Auto Insurance Follows the Vehicle

When you obtain insurance for your vehicle, it is the vehicle that you insure. When you let a friend drive your car, the insurance stays in effect. And if your friend causes an accident, the insurance policy should provide coverage as agreed when you paid the insurer for coverage.

Your friend also might have a vehicle with auto insurance coverage that protects it. If so, your friend’s auto insurance policy might pay for what your insurance does not toward property damage and any bodily injuries.

There are possible exceptions to your auto insurance covering the cost of damages and bodily injuries up to policy limits. The following offers a closer look at some of the more common exceptions.

Negligent Entrustment Might Make You Liable

Your vehicle must be driven responsibly and legally. If you are aware of an issue with a friend who wants to borrow your car, that issue could make you liable because of negligent entrustment.

Negligent entrustment happens when you allow someone to drive your car when you reasonably should have known that was a bad idea.

For example, you might have a drunk friend who wants to borrow your car to buy more beer or booze. If you let that person get behind the wheel of your car, that would be negligent entrustment.

Your insurer could deny coverage in such situations. The same goes for any others in which you reasonably should have known better than to loan your car to that person.

Family Purpose Doctrine

You might be the head of a household or live with an extended family. In such situations, your auto insurer expects your immediate family members to have access to your vehicle. In such cases, the family doctrine applies.

The family doctrine says that immediate family members are covered by an auto insurance policy. Your insurer expects you to allow licensed family members to lawfully drive your vehicle.

If most people in your household are experienced adult drivers with clean driving records, that is not a problem. However, a motorist with a DUI conviction or several driving violations on record is a liability to you and your insurer.

Your insurer might require you to exclude coverage for a particular motorist. Or it might require you to declare the named insured drivers for whom auto insurance coverage would apply.

Doing that can help to lower the risks for insuring your vehicle. It also could help you to keep your auto insurance rates affordably lower.

But if that person winds up in an accident while driving your vehicle, the insurer could deny all coverage. You would be liable for the costs in such an instance.

Many homeowners carry an umbrella insurance policy for their homes. An umbrella policy gives you an additional level of liability protection that could apply if an auto insurer denies coverage if another person was driving your vehicle during an accident.

Teen Drivers Could Pose Problems

Auto insurers do not want scofflaws or drunk drivers operating the vehicles that they insure. Auto insurers also are wary of teen drivers who are just learning to drive and are highly susceptible to distracted driving.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of death among teen drivers. If you have a licensed teen driver in your household, your insurance rates could go up dramatically.

Many auto insurers will raise your insurance rates if it has reason to believe one or more teen drivers has access to your vehicle. The insurer likely would require you to sign a form declaring a teen driver does not have access to your vehicle.

If you sign such a form to keep your car insurance rates lower, the teen driver cannot use your vehicle. If the teen does use the vehicle and is in an accident, your insurer could waive coverage, even if another motorist caused the accident.

Named Insured Auto Policy Might Apply

You might regularly allow a particular friend or another person to use your vehicle. Your auto insurance might not provide coverage for an accident if you do. Anyone who regularly uses your vehicle must be an immediate family member.

If you have a live-In boyfriend or girlfriend who regularly uses your vehicle, that person should be included among the named insured. When your insurer underwrites an auto insurance policy, it bases the coverage primarily on your driving record.

When you live with known bad drivers, your insurer could deny coverage for that person. That includes any accidents that might happen while a known bad driver is operating your vehicle.

Someone in your household might have a particularly bad driving record or a recent DUI conviction. Your insurer might require you to affirm that person does not have access to your vehicle. Or it might raise your insurance rates to compensate for the additional risk.

Bowie Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Help Clients Recover after a Car Accident

Having a friend borrow your vehicle, only to have an accident, can be unsettling. If this has happened to you, reach out to the Bowie car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. Our experienced legal team will be your advocate so that your legal rights are protected. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.