You may be a conscientious driver yourself, but that doesn’t mean everyone who drives your car can avoid a car crash. Whether you allow a family member to borrow your car or someone takes your car without your consent, a car crash that happens in your car is sure to affect you, even if you’re not driving. There are repair costs to consider, and you may worry about being held liable for the car accident.
Today’s blog will answer the question, “What happens if someone crashes my car?”
Who Is Liable if Someone Gets in an Accident in Your Vehicle?
One of the first questions that may come to mind when someone else crashes your car is that of liability. Will you be held liable to pay for property damages because you own the car? The answer is that it depends. There are a few scenarios in which another driver might crash your car, primarily “permissive” and “non-permissive.” The answer to “who is liable if someone else crashes my car?” often comes down to how they got access to your car in the first place.
Most liability insurance plans recognize that you will not always be the only one to drive your car. You can name members of your household or family who have permission to drive your car. Your insurance coverage may also mention “permissive users.” A permissive user is anyone you permit to drive your car, even if they are not listed as a household member.
Imagine throwing a party, and you realize you forgot ice for drinks. You may be busy setting up the party and ask a friend to take your car, drive to the gas station, and get a couple of bags of ice. That friend is a “permissive user” because you have given them permission to use your car.
Typically, your insurance company will cover permitted users if they crash your car in an accident. However, they may offer only limited coverage or reduced deductibles in these cases. Look over your policy limits before loaning your car out to a friend. Sometimes, your friend’s auto-insurance carrier may cover the accident, but this is not guaranteed.
Non-permissive means that someone took your car without your consent. Maybe a friend you’ve allowed to borrow your car in the past took that for granted and drove your car without asking permission first. Or perhaps a thief got a hold of your car and got in a car accident while driving away.
In most non-permissive cases, you will not be held liable for instances in which someone else crashes your car without your permission. Still, there may be some exceptions. If the driver does not have collision coverage, you may have to file an accident claim with your primary coverage to pay for the damages for vehicle repairs. If someone steals your vehicle and gets into a crash, they will most likely be held liable for damages to the other car and any medical bills that may ensue. You may, however, have to file a claim to cover the motor vehicle repairs for your own vehicle.
There are a few scenarios that may fall within a gray area. For instance, if you allow an unlicensed friend to borrow your car or a friend you know to be buzzed, high, or drunk, you can still be held liable when they crash the car. If the person driving your car, whether permissive or non-permissive, does not have collision car insurance, your insurance will have to cover the damage to your vehicle.
If the Person Driving Is the At-Fault Driver, Who Pays?
In the case of an at-fault accident, you may wonder, “Can I be sued if someone else crashes my car?” This will depend on a few different factors. The first to consider are the above points: Was the driver a permissive user or non-permissive? Do they have collision insurance or any insurance at all?
Also, consider the laws about car-crash fault within your state. Ohio is an at-fault state, which means the driver responsible for the car accident typically covers the property damage. Ohio is also a comparative negligence state, meaning that if one driver is found to be over 50% at fault for the car accident, they will not be able to collect damages.
Review your insurance policy, check with your insurance provider, and contact a personal injury attorney to determine whether you will have to pay for someone else crashing your car.
What Happens to Your Insurance Rates?
If a permissive driver crashes your car, they will be covered by your insurance. Car accidents involving permissive users are often treated the same way by the insurance company as car accidents involving the vehicle owner. However, this will mean your insurance rates will likely increase after the car accident. One exception is accident forgiveness insurance, which often ensures your rates don’t go up after the first car accident.
This can happen even if your vehicle was not at fault in the accident, but the rate at which your insurance goes up will likely be less. If a non-permissive user crashes while driving your car, your insurance will not cover them, and thus your rates are less likely to go up.
Contact an Attorney for Any Accident
Whether the accident happens while you are driving or a friend is driving, one of the first things you need is a good Ohio car accident attorney. This is where we can help. We have years of experience defending our clients’ rights after an accident. We also work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t pay us a cent unless we win your case. Contact The Moore Law Firm today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.