Accident And Injury Attorneys


Abogados De Accidentes


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

Lending your car to someone and facing the aftermath of an accident can be a complex and often confusing situation. The nuances of insurance coverage, liability, and the circumstances surrounding the accident can greatly impact the claims process. Whether it’s a family member, a friend, or even someone who stole your car, understanding who is responsible for damages requires careful consideration.

No matter the circumstances, the team of personal injury attorneys at the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP is here to help you navigate through these complexities and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. 

The Circumstances of the Accident Will Dictate Who Pays for Damages

The following factors will determine if you are liable:

You Gave Your Family Member or Friend Permission to Borrow Your Vehicle

In most instances, they will be covered by your insurance policy if the use of the vehicle is 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.

Your Family Member or Friend Who Is Part of Your Household

You will want to check your insurance policy, but generally, anyone living in your house will be covered when driving your car unless they are expressly excluded from your policy. If they are explicitly excluded from your policy, your insurance will likely not cover the accident, and you might have to pay for damages out of your pocket.

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.

The Damages Caused Exceed Insurance Limits

You may have to pay for damages out of your own pocket if they exceed your insurance policy limits or if the driver does not have insurance to cover the excess. In this case, you could rely on your uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage.

This type of insurance is an optional plan you could have selected when you first retained car insurance. It can cover the medical bills up to policy limits, as well as pain and suffering.

Understand Your Car Insurance Coverage

It is important to note that New York is a no-fault insurance state, so your insurance covers the insured driver’s medical expenses, lost wages, and other incidental expenses, no matter who is at fault for the accident.

In most cases, your auto insurance policy will follow your car, not the driver, so if your friend or family member borrows your car and gets into an accident, your insurance will be the primary coverage that will apply.

However, 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. 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.

If the Other Driver Was at Fault for the Car Accident

In the event the losses go over the policy limits, you can hold the other driver responsible if they are deemed negligent. To establish negligence, we would have to prove these four elements:

  • A duty of care: The other driver was to act in accordance with the traffic laws to keep other road users safe.
  • Violation or breach of duty: The other driver didn’t live up to the duty of care they owed you. They could have driven while drunk, fatigued, or distracted.
  • Causation: The other driver’s negligence caused an accident.
  • Damages: You and the person driving your car face economic and non-economic damages.

The driver of your vehicle can give their account as to what happened, but that is not sufficient enough to show the insurance company that they are entitled to compensation. In that case, you might want to gather evidence like the crash or medical reports, photographs of the injuries the driver of your vehicle sustained and the accident scene, video surveillance, and other people’s testimonies.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today

If someone else was driving your car and got in an accident in New York, consider consulting a car accident attorney on our team right away, as you may be liable for damages that you personally did not cause. Our attorneys can thoroughly investigate the accident, your friends’ insurance, or the other parties’ insurance coverage to ensure you are not unfairly held liable for any damages.

Call the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP, at (516) 358-6900 or complete our contact form to learn more about what we can do for you. For your convenience, we are available 24/7. Let our Long Island personal injury attorney help you put your life back together.

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