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Who May Be Liable for Damages in an Accident with a Stolen Vehicle?

Posted on behalf of Anderson Cummings on Nov 30, 2021 in Auto Accidents

person breaking into a car Injury claims for accidents involving stolen vehicles may be complicated cases due to the confusion over who may be liable for damages. There are laws barring liability for vehicle owners, with some exceptions.

Let our knowledgeable Fort Worth auto accident lawyers review your claim to see what legal options may be available to you if you were injured in an accident with a vehicle that was stolen.

Below, we discuss who may be liable and what options may be available for seeking compensation.

Is the Owner of the Vehicle Liable?

In Texas, the owner of a vehicle may not be held financially liable for damages caused by his or her vehicle if it was stolen. However, there are exceptions to the law.

If the theft was foreseeable, and therefore avoidable, the registered owner of the vehicle may be held liable for any damages caused by negligent handling of the stolen vehicle.

A foreseeable theft could be one that may have been anticipated by the owner of the vehicle, such as the theft of a vehicle that was left unattended with the engine running. The Texas Code of Transportation states that it is against the law for a driver to leave a vehicle unattended unless the engine is turned off, the ignition is locked, and the keys are out of the ignition.

Proving the Theft Was Foreseeable

A thorough investigation may be necessary to prove the theft of a vehicle was foreseeable. Evidence that may be used to prove this could include testimony from an expert witness, like a locksmith, to prove a key was used in the ignition. Proving the keys were in the ignition may show the owner of the vehicle did not take proper care to secure his or her vehicle to avoid theft. Therefore, he or she could be held liable for damages.

There are other factors that may help prove a vehicle owner’s liability for a stolen vehicle accident. It would be in your best interest to discuss your options with our experienced attorneys as soon as possible.

Premises Liability for Stolen Vehicles

In some very rare cases, a property owner could be held liable for damages caused by a stolen vehicle. One example is a parking garage or parking lot outside a venue that does not adequately monitor its parking area to assure vehicles are not damaged, broken into or stolen. However, it is important to note that many parking garages and lots place patrons on notice of no liability for stolen items.

Another example of when a property owner could be held liable for a stolen vehicle accident is if there is a valet. If the valet at a restaurant or another location does not take proper care to keep car keys secure, and theft occurs, either the valet company or the property owner could be liable for damages if an accident occurs.

Despite the rarity of these cases, it is best to consider all your options when filing a claim for compensation involving a stolen vehicle.

Will the Insurance Company Cover Damages?

Whether the insurance company will cover your damages after a stolen vehicle accident depends on the evidence in the case. If you can prove a vehicle owner could have avoided the theft of the vehicle, then the insurance company may be held responsible for paying out the claim. That does not mean they will quickly agree to a fair settlement.

Remember these companies are more focused on protecting their profits and will likely try to diminish the value of your claim if they cannot outright deny it.

Having an attorney on your side with the resources you need to prove liability would be beneficial.  

Options for Recovering Compensation

Since Texas is an at-fault state, compensation for your injuries after an accident is generally recovered from the liable party, such as a negligent driver or a negligent vehicle owner who had his or her vehicle stolen.

However, there may be some other options available for getting some compensation for your economic damages through certain insurance add-ons on your own policy.

If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments coverage on your own auto insurance policy you may be able to file a first-party claim for compensation for things like your medical bills or lost wages (only when using PIP).

For damages to your personal property, such as damage to your vehicle, you may be able to turn to the collision coverage so your insurer may cover the costs of vehicle repairs or replacement. If your vehicle only needs repairs and you need another vehicle to get around in the meantime, rental car coverage may provide reimbursement for the costs of renting a vehicle.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

If you were injured in an accident involving a vehicle that was stolen, you may still have some options for recovering compensation for your damages.

Our experienced attorneys are prepared to discuss your claim during a free consultation to see what legal options may be available to you.

We do not charge you anything up front and there are no fees unless we win.

No upfront costs. No risk. Call (877) 920-9009