We often allow our friends and family to drive our car. But what if they meet an accident while driving; will your car insurance policy cover the damages?
Washington is a fault insurance state, so the driver-at fault is liable for covering all the damages done, even if he is driving a borrowed car. Whether he covers the damages using his insurance policy or out of his pocket, depends on the factors surrounding the accident. However, determining fault in case of a borrowed car is not always that simple, the court may also find the car owner liable for the damages.
Besides, there are policies with special clauses that minimizes the cover, so you need to check for that too. Overall, the verdict will depend on factors like:
- Who is at fault?
- State insurance laws
- Types of damages done
- The limit and coverage of the owner and driver’s license
One of the things most car owners don’t realize is that liability is not just limited to when you are driving a car.
What Happens When Someone Else Crashes My Car?
You need to understand that auto insurance is not just applied to you; it is related to the vehicle. Even if someone from your family or friend were driving the car, your auto insurance policy might cover the damages the done. Look at these three simple scenarios to understand the outcome:
Case 1: Suppose one of your friend or family member borrowed your car and got into an accident. If it is proven that the driver of the other car is at-fault, all the property and physical damages will be covered by his insurance policy. If his insurance policy is unable to cover the damages done to your friends and family, you can sue them.
Case 2: In other circumstance, if it’s your family member or friend who is at-fault, then all the damage costs will be recovered from your insurance policy. In case the limit reaches, your friend’s (who is also the driver at-fault) insurance policy can come to aid. However, both of you can be sued for the damages done.
However, things get complicated if the person driving the car has caused serious and unrecoverable damage like lifetime injury or killing a person. Some potential scenarios that apply in such cases are:
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What Does Permissive Use Mean?
In state of Washington, most insurance companies put a clause that states that Permissive Use of the vehicle is insured. Permissive Use means that you have allowed someone to drive the car. If it is proven that it was Permissive Use, your insurance will be more likely to cover the damages.
In most states, if you allow someone to use your vehicle occasionally it counts for less than 12 times a year. So, if you want your friends and family to drive your car more often, it would be wiser to add them to your insurance policy.
Negligent Entrustment in Washington State
In Washington, car owners are considered liable if they have granted driving permission to a reckless driver. Which means if you have given a car to someone who is misfit for driving, that’s your fault.
For traffic accident cases where car owners lend their car to a reckless driver or someone who has a history breaking traffic laws, the court will announce the verdict based on lack of judgment. The victim needs to prove that the car owner knowingly and intentionally allowed a misfit driver to take the car, which caused the accident.
However, it’s easier said than done. The victim will need solid proof and witnesses to prove that the person was intentionally allowed to drive. Only a skilled car accident attorney can help in representing such complicated cases in the court.
As for now, the next time you are lending your car to someone, make sure they do not fall in the following categories. As even minor accidents can cause many troubles, if you have given your car to friends and family who fall in this category.
- The person doesn’t have a driving listened.
- The person driving the car is underage.
- The person has a previous record of reckless driving and short-tempered behavior.
- The person is a drunkard or a drug addict.
- The person is too old and incapable of driving.
- The person has an idleness that can cause obstacles in driving. For e.g. He/she has critical heart condition or has vision or hearing loss.
What If Your Insurance Does Not Cover the Damages When Someone Else Drives Your Car?
There are certain situations where your car insurance will not be paying for the damages done. That’s why it’s extremely important that you ask for all the exceptions before handing over your car key to someone else. Some of the most casual exception that we have seen in such cases are:
- Lack of permission
If the driver at fault was driving your car without asking your permission, your insurance is not liable to cover the damages. In cases, where there are minimum damages, the car owners try to take advantage of the insurance coverage. On the contrary, if there are severe damage and death is involved on the accident, car owners blatantly deny giving permission. Therefore, once again the victim will need to prove that the damage done was due to the lack of judgment of the car owner.
- Special circumstances
There are insurance policies with special clause that states that the insurance doesn’t cover any one other than the driver. In such cases, you should never allow anyone else to take your car. Sometimes, the policy also exclude certain members of the family for instance, someone who has a previous record of reckless driving, or someone with a suspended car license.
- Commercial activities
In some cases, we have seen the car insurance companies denying claims if the car was involved in commercial activities. For instance, if one of your family members or friend gets into an accident while driving the car for business purpose, such as rideshare services, it won’t be insured.
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Who Receives the Ticket in a Crash with a Borrowed Car?
No matter where you are staying, if you are breaking one of the traffic laws that doesn’t need towing away your car, the ticket will be the driver’s responsibility. Tickets are not the responsibility of the car owner. For instance in case of speeding or breaking the traffic light rule, the ticket will be issued on the name of the driver.
If you have given your car to someone and it has met an accident, the best approach is to contact a car accident attorney. Only a skilled attorney can handle the complications of such cases. On top it, they will also help you in negotiating with your insurance company to gain maximum coverage, so that you don’t have to pay out of your pocket.
How The Jackman Law Firm Can Help
If you have been in a car accident with someone who was borrowing someone else’s car and the insurance company is denying your claim, you should call The Jackman Law Firm. We can help you recover money for your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical bills, and other out of pocket expenses. Most importantly, we can force the insurance company to provide coverage for your case, which they may be reluctant to do without the possibility of being sued and taken to court.
Call us for a free consultation.