Take the Wheel: What Is My Liability When Others Drive My Car?

November 18, 2017

As seasoned Arizona personal injury attorneys, we, at Torgenson Law, understand the various twists and turns of personal injury cases that make each situation unique. One that confuses many of our clients occurs when they are injured in a car accident, and the negligent driver is someone other than the vehicle’s owner. Specifically, our clients become concerned that they will be unable to recover for their injuries because the negligent driver is not expressly insured by the vehicle owner’s policy. However, we are here to remind you that all hope is not lost, and you can and should recover under such circumstances. Below are questions related to situations you may encounter in the event of a car accident.

Who is Liable When the Driver a Child or Relative of the Car Owner?

One common situation arises when a newly licensed teenager is given or drives a car that his or her parents own. As a general rule, anyone living under the insured’s roof will also be covered by most automobile insurance policies unless specifically excluded by the plan. In other words, if any child or relative that lives in the home of the vehicle owner subsequently drives the owner’s car, crashes, and causes personal injuries; the owner’s auto insurance will still provide coverage even though the owner was not behind the wheel at the time of the accident.

What if the Car Owner Lent Her Car to a Friend?

Similarly, it is common for automobile owners to allow their friends to borrow their cars. Again, most insurance policies will extend coverage to accidents caused by any individual who was permitted to use the vehicle. One rule to remember is that the insurance follows the car, not the driver. This means that when an owner permits another to drive his or her car, the owner’s insurance on the vehicle will provide primary coverage on an accident as opposed to the driver’s insurance. So, if you are injured by an uninsured driver who does not own the vehicle, you still have rights to compensation under the car owner’s automobile insurance plan.

What if the Negligent Driver Stole the Vehicle?

In other cases, an owner’s vehicle may be stolen or used without the owner’s permission. If such is the case, and the non-owning driver injures you in a car crash, the owner’s insurance probably will not provide coverage for your injuries. Instead, you may be forced to seek personal injury compensation from the negligent driver’s own insurance.

What is Negligent Entrustment?

Additionally, vehicle owners will be held directly liable if they lend their cars to individuals who are unfit or known to be reckless drivers. For example, if the owner allows an intoxicated or an unlicensed driver to operate their vehicle, the owner can be directly sued for any personal injury damages. This is known as negligent entrustment, as the owner clearly created an unreasonable risk of harm to other drivers by allowing such a person to use their vehicle on the roadways. If you believe the driver should not have been allowed behind the wheel of a car, do not hesitate to contact us at Torgenson Law where we will put in the time and effort to investigate your claim for negligent entrustment.

Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your injuries, you must not allow insurance companies to bully you or deny you coverage when you have a right to compensation. If you or a loved one is injured in an automobile accident, call us at (602) 726-0747. At Torgenson Law, we will leave no stone unturned when it comes to your personal injury claim. Our team will work tirelessly on your claims to ensure that you receive proper compensation for your injuries.