If you loaned your vehicle to a friend or family member and that person gets into an accident, you may be surprised to learn that you may be legally liable for the accident. What started as a favor for a loved one could create a complex legal problem.
The knowledgeable car accident lawyers in Fort Worth from Anderson & Cummings are available to help sort through this legal issue and explain your rights during a free consultation.
Your automotive insurance policy covers your vehicle, so if someone else is driving it and is responsible for an accident, it may cover the resulting damages. The insurance follows the car. If the driver causes damages that exceed your insurance limits, the driver’s own insurance policy may kick in and cover additional damages.
If the other driver is found to be at fault for the accident, the insurance policy that covers that vehicle may pay for the damages.
The Importance of Permission
If you did not give permission for the third party to use your vehicle, your car insurance policy might not cover the damages that resulted from the accident. There are different types of permission you can provide:
- Verbal permission – This permission is given when you say it is fine for someone else to drive your car.
- Written permission – You may write a letter, a text message or an email that says it is fine for the person to borrow your vehicle.
Implied permission – Implied permission is based on your previous conduct when permission was granted. For example, you may place your car keys in a communal location where any adult in the unit could use the vehicle. While you did not expressly give permission, your previous conduct says it is fine for the person to borrow the vehicle.
Typically, the intended use of the vehicle is not relevant to a car accident claim. Whether your friend borrowed the car to go on a date or interview for a job, if he was found at fault for the accident, your car insurance would likely cover the damages.
However, if the person borrowing the vehicle is using it for a business, such as to deliver furniture or for their moving business, liability may shift to the driver. Drivers in these situations are required to purchase a separate insurance policy for commercial purposes, which should cover the resulting damages.
What is Negligent Entrustment?
This legal term means you knew the driver was unsafe when you entrusted him or her with a dangerous item, such as a car.
Negligent entrustment may occur when you lend your vehicle to someone who:
- Is not licensed
- Has a suspended or revoked driver’s license
- Is intoxicated or impaired by drugs
- Has an extensive history of accidents or reckless driving behavior that you were aware of
As the owner of the vehicle, you are responsible for the upkeep on your vehicle to ensure that it is safe to operate. If you fail to keep your vehicle in safe working condition before another person borrows it, you can be held responsible for an accident that occurs as a result of your negligent maintenance.
Vehicle maintenance issues that could lead to an accident include:
- Faulty brakes
- Worn tires
- Suspension problems
- Bulging tires
- Transmission problems
- Bad windshield wipers
Before lending your vehicle to anyone, be sure that your vehicle is in safe condition to help avoid these kinds of liability issues.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
Sorting out liability after a car accident can be a complex issue. The car accident legal team at Anderson & Cummings is prepared to identify the insurance policies that may apply to your claim. If your claim is viable, they may be able to seek compensation for your damages.
Call the legal team of Anderson Cummings today at (817) 920-9000 for a free consultation or you can fill out our Free Case Evaluation form.