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What Happens If I Lend My Car to Someone and They Get into an Accident?

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Driver on Long Island lending their car to someone else.

One question we frequently receive from clients is if they let a family member, friend, or roommate borrow their vehicle, will they then be liable for damages if that individual gets into a car accident?  Unfortunately, there is no straight answer to this question as whether you are liable can depend on a number of different factors.

Some of these factors include:

  • Whether you gave your family member, friend, or roommate permission to borrow your vehicle. In most instances, they will be covered by your insurance policy if the use of the vehicle was truly permissive.  If you did not give permission, such as in the case of auto theft, it’s possible that you might not be liable for damages.
  • Whether your family member, friend, or roommate is part of your household. You will want to check your insurance policy, but generally, anyone who lives in your house will be covered when they are driving your car unless they are expressly excluded from your policy.  If they are explicitly excluded from your policy, your insurance likely will not cover the accident, and you might have to pay for damages out of your own pocket.
  • Whether you lend your car to an impaired or unlicensed driver. You may be sued for damages if you let someone without driving privileges or an intoxicated person drive your vehicle and they cause an accident.
  • Whether the damages caused exceed insurance limits. You may have to pay for damages out of your own pocket if the damages exceed your insurance policy limits, and the driver does not have insurance to cover the excess.

Understand Your Car Insurance Coverage

It is important to note that New York is a no-fault insurance state.  What this means is that your insurance covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and other incidental expenses no matter who is at fault for the accident.  It also means that in most cases, your insurance policy will follow your car, not the driver, so if your friend borrows your car and gets into an accident, your insurance will be the primary coverage that will apply.  But as mentioned, what actually is covered will depend on the facts and circumstances of the accident.  Make sure you understand your insurance policy, including what is covered and the policy limits, and while the best way to avoid any liability is to not lend your car to anyone, if you must, use discretion and caution when deciding who can drive your vehicle.

Contact a Long Island Auto Accident Attorney

If someone else was driving your car and in an accident in New York, you should seriously consider consulting with an experienced Long Island car accident attorney right away, as you may be liable for damages that you personally did not cause.  Call the personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP at (516) 358-6900 to learn more about what we can do for you.  For your convenience, we are available 24/7. Let us help you put your life back together!

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