Most people do not think twice about lending their car to a family member or friend. We generally assume people will drive cautiously when using someone else’s car, which is true in many instances. However, even careful drivers end up in accidents, and a crash involving another driver in your car can lead to significant insurance headaches.
Contact a lawyer immediately if another driver hits someone else while using your car. A Florida car accident attorney can review your case and insurance coverage, then advise you on what to do next. This way, you can protect your rights and hopefully avoid a messy legal battle. Keep reading for more info on what happens if someone gets into an accident while driving your car.
Does Car Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?
Some people believe whoever was driving when a crash occurred is responsible for the accident, but that is not necessarily the case. Here is the most important thing to remember if someone is involved in a collision while driving your car: auto insurance follows the car, not the driver.
In other words, the person driving your car is not responsible for a crash because they were driving. Keeping this principle in mind can help you better understand the insurance issues in these situations.
Who Pays When a Driver Crashes Someone Else’s Car?
Sorting out who will pay for anyone’s injuries in a car accident becomes more complicated when a driver crashes someone else’s car. In Florida, who pays for any injuries in these situations depends on three main factors: How bad a person’s injuries are, who caused the crash, and the details of each vehicle’s insurance policy.
Because Florida is a no-fault state for car accidents, the owners of any vehicle involved in a crash must first file a claim with their insurance company. Anyone driving a car registered in Florida must have $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. If someone is involved in a crash while driving your car, your PIP coverage will cover 80 percent of their medical bills, up to the $10,000 limit. Depending on how bad an accident is, these PIP benefits may be enough to cover all the injuries from a crash.
A permanent and therefore serious injury must involve a significant loss of an important bodily function, or a significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement. Examples of injuries that may qualify as permanent include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, and severe burns. A permanent injury is not the same as a permanently disabling injury.
If someone sustains a permanent injury, they could seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include compensation for any financial losses you have incurred due to the injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of earning capacity. Non-economic damages include compensation for non-financial losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and scarring and disfigurement.
It’s important to note that in Florida, there is a cap on non-economic damages in most personal injury cases, including those arising from car accidents. The cap, established by Florida Statute 627.736, is $500,000 or $1 million if the injury results in a permanent vegetative state or death.
So, what happens when someone else drives your car and hits someone? In these cases, you may be responsible for any injuries to the driver in the other vehicle if they exceed the driver’s PIP coverage. Even though you weren’t in the vehicle, they were driving your car, meaning your insurance applies. If the other driver sustained serious injuries, they have the right to file a claim against you.
After a major car accident, your insurance may not be enough to cover the injuries to the second driver. If the second driver’s injuries exceed your insurance policy limits, they could file a claim against the person who drove your car and claim additional compensation. But if the person driving your car does not have insurance, you could be liable for compensation exceeding your policy’s limits. For this reason, always make sure anyone driving your car has their own insurance or is included in your policy.
Accidents Involving Friends or Family Driving Your Vehicle
Most of the time, your auto insurance policy will include any driver in your household (unless expressly excluded from coverage). So, if someone in your family gets into an accident while driving your car, your insurance should cover their injuries. The major exceptions to this rule are if an unlicensed driver used your car or someone expressly excluded from your policy used your vehicle.
Accidents involving friends driving your vehicle generally work the same way. Most auto policies include a “permissive use” provision, which basically means your insurance applies as long as you give permission for your friend to use your car. However, your insurance may not apply if your friend does not have a driver’s license or caused an accident because they had been abusing drugs or alcohol.
What if Someone Crashes Your Car After Stealing It?
If a stranger crashes your car after stealing it, you generally do not have to pay for any injuries from the crash. Things can become more complicated if someone you know borrows your car without permission.
To avoid paying for any injuries from the crash, you must show that the person who borrowed your car did not have your consent. Insurance companies generally do not give you the benefit of the doubt in cases like this, so get help from an experienced attorney if you find yourself in this situation.