My buddy borrowed my car. Then, my friend crashed my car in an accident with another vehicle. Now, we’re both wondering: Who’s liable? Who pays for the damages? Who pays if someone else is hurt? Will insurance cover anything? Whose insurance applies?
When you lend your vehicle to a friend, it’s important to know the rules of the road. If you let your buddy drive your vehicle and he or she is negligent and at fault for an accident with another motor vehicle, then both your friend as the driver, and you as the owner, could be held liable for any personal injuries, wrongful death, and/or vehicle damage that occurs.
Will insurance pay?
Whether insurance will pay will depend on whether your friend has his or her auto insurance coverage (or whether your friend is covered under a spouse’s or a relative’s policy) and the coverage limits in your and/or your friend’s liability policy. Also, the terms of the policy will determine when and whether coverage applies when your friend is driving your vehicle, not his or her own vehicle.
Personal injuries to others
If your friend’s negligent driving of your vehicle causes others to suffer a personal injury, catastrophic and/or fatal injuries, then your liability insurance as the vehicle’s owner and any liability insurance that may cover your friend will be used to help pay for the pain and suffering compensation and economic damages you may legally owe to the people injured or killed in the crash.
Depending on the laws of the state in which the accident occurred, your friend as the driver and you as the owner of the vehicle may be liable to pay for the damage to other people’s vehicles as a result of the crash. As for damage to your vehicle which you loaned to your friend, it may be covered by your collision coverage, and, depending on the laws of your state, you may be able to recover some repair costs from your friend based on his or her negligent driving.
First things first: contact an attorney. Even if your friend has insurance and has agreed to pay for the damages, it’s possible that their insurance company may not want to pay up. And if they do decide to fight with yours over who should pay for what, having legal representation will give you an edge in negotiations.
Second: contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident happens so that they can start investigating what happened and get things moving on their end as well (if necessary). It’s possible that the insurance company’s investigation could show that another driver – not your friend – was at fault for causing damage/injuries – for example, if the other driver was texting while driving or speeding excessively.
In conclusion, it’s important to remember that this is a complicated situation. Given that it was your vehicle involved in your friend’s crash and you may have liability because you’re the owner, it’s best to talk with an auto accident lawyer who has experience in these types of cases.