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If Someone Steals My Car and is in an Accident, am I Liable?

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Car being stolen on Long Island.

In New York, if you permit someone else to drive your vehicle, in most cases your insurance policy will cover damages such as medical expenses and lost wages in the event that the borrower of your vehicle is in an accident.  Because New York is a no-fault state, your insurance will cover the car accident no matter who is at fault.  Be wary though that your insurance may not cover everything and you may have to pay for some damages out of pocket.  If someone does not have permission to use your vehicle, it’s possible that your insurance will not cover damages that result from an accident, especially because it can be difficult to establish whether or not the driver actually had permission.  But if you can prove that your vehicle was stolen, you generally are not liable for any injuries or damages that the thief causes while driving your car.  In these instances, a theft implies that no permission was given.  Be sure to review your insurance policy as certain conditions may apply regarding different users of your vehicle.

The Drivers Responsibilities

If you are someone who operates a vehicle on New York’s roadways, you have a duty to drive your vehicle in a safe manner, to keep other drivers safe, and to keep and maintain your vehicle so that it can be safely operated.  That’s why if your vehicle is stolen, you should immediately report the theft to law enforcement.  Most insurance companies will not honor a theft claim unless you’ve already filed a police report.  Thus, after calling the police, you should also be sure to report the incident to your insurance company so that they are aware of the situation.  You might also want to call an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss the theft, your rights and responsibilities, and what might be the repercussions if your vehicle ends up damaging property or another individual.

It’s important to note that if you leave your car unattended and vulnerable to theft, you may be liable for damages that the thief causes.  For example, if you leave your leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition while you run into the gas station, and someone steals your vehicle while you’re inside, if the thief thereafter causes an accident, you may be liable for any damages that result.  Accordingly, be sure to remove the keys from your car and lock the doors so as to prevent the theft of your vehicle.

Contact a Long Island Auto Accident Attorney Today

If someone stole your vehicle and was involved in an accident in New York, you should consult with an experienced Long Island car accident lawyer immediately.  While you likely will not be liable for damages that a thief causes, it is important to have a skilled attorney by your side in the event those injured in the accident file any lawsuits for damages.  Call the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at (516) 358-6900. We’ll help you put your life back together!

 

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