Who is Liable for Crashes that Occur in a Borrowed Vehicle?
At some point, we have all either borrowed a car or allowed someone else to borrow ours. In most instances, nothing goes wrong. However, in other cases, an accident occurs while someone is driving another person’s vehicle. Who is liable for damages in this situation?
In New Jersey, all drivers are required to have insurance on their motor vehicles. Though motor vehicle insurance may change from plan to plan, all New Jersey residents are required to have the following minimum coverage limits:
- $15,000 in body injury liability per person
- $30,000 in bodily injury liability per accident
- $5,000 in property damage liability per accident
- $15,000 in personal injury protection
Generally, motor vehicle insurance follows the car. Therefore, when someone borrows your car, they are protected under your insurance plan. However, there are exceptions.
First, it should be noted that most insurance policies cover other family members within the insured’s home. For example, a man’s wife is generally covered under his insurance policy.
Insurance policies also generally cover permissive users of the vehicle. Permissive users are other individuals that the insured allows to use the car. Your friend that borrows your car with your permission would be an example of a permissive user. If insurance coverage is provided, you would have to pay your deductible and possibly face increases in your insurance rates. If your insurance coverage is inadequate to cover all of the damages, the driver’s own insurance policy may cover the excess.
However, permissive users are usually not covered in a couple of situations.
First, if the person borrowing your car is doing so for business purposes, insurance coverage may be denied if an accident happens. Attending a work dinner, driving to a conference, or even just making a delivery may all be grounds for a denial of coverage.
Additionally, if the driver did not have a license or was inexperienced, your insurance company may also deny coverage. Your insurance company may argue that you should not have loaned your car to someone who may have been more likely to cause an accident.
If insurance coverage is not provided, that means that the owner of the vehicle may be liable for damages that result from an accident. Medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering are just a few examples of the damages accident victims may be able to claim. In especially serious accidents, damages may reach seven figures.
If your car was stolen and the thief caused an accident in your car, you generally would not be liable for the damages that result. The exception is if the theft was foreseeable, which would require an analysis of all of the facts of the case.
If you have been injured in an accident, call our experienced New Jersey accident attorneys for legal guidance you can trust
At Leonard Legal Group, our New Jersey accident attorneys understand complicated insurance coverage matters. We offer a free consultation so you can learn about your legal options after an accident. To schedule your free consultation, call 973-984-1414 or contact us online.