If someone steals your car and is in an accident, you are probably not liable for the resulting damages. New York operates on no-fault law, so each involved party’s own insurance will pay for their losses. However, if their losses exceed the policy limits, they might try to pursue the other party’s insurer for additional compensation.
In that case, you must have evidence to prove that the person who stole your car committed such a crime, and they, in turn, are responsible. Proving this fact may be difficult on your own, but you can leave it to one of our lawyers to take on your case for you.
How New York’s No-Fault System Works
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.
Per the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS), 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.
The Person who Stole Your Car will Typically Be Responsible for Damages
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. As such, it can be especially difficult to establish whether or not the driver actually had permission.
However, 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 of care to drive your vehicle 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 be Liable in Certain Circumstances
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 car unlocked with the keys in the ignition while you run into the gas station, and someone steals your vehicle while you’re inside, and 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.
What Our New York Car Accident Lawyers Can Do for You
After someone is in an accident when they steal your car and you possibly face liability, you might want to retain the services of one of our car accident lawyers.
When you meet, you can discuss the theft, your rights and responsibilities, and what might be the repercussions if your vehicle ends up damaged, damaging property, or hurting another individual.
Once you and your lawyer talk about what happened, they can start to build a case, which involves:
- Ordering a copy of the police reports
- Gathering photos of the scene of the accident and where your car was stolen
- Looking over video surveillance footage of the suspect stealing your car and getting into the accident
- Accessing the suspect’s criminal records
- Taking statements from witnesses at the accident scene or where your car was stolen
- Reviewing the involved parties’ insurance policies
- Help you get your car replaced or repaired
- Submit all paperwork by the deadlines enforced by the state
Once we have collected all the evidence that shows what happened, we can dispute your case to show that you were not responsible for the other party’s damages and that you were also a victim in this auto accident.
Connect with the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP to Start Your Free Case Review
If someone stole your vehicle and was involved in an accident in New York, we urge you to get in touch with our team as soon as possible. While you likely will not be liable for damages that a thief causes, it is important that you consider having one of our attorneys by your side in the event those injured in the accident file any lawsuits for damages.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900