When Can I Be Liable For Someone Else’s Driving?
Imagine receiving a letter in the mail notifying you that you are being sued. Someone was injured in a car accident, and they are saying that you are financially and legally responsible. The strange part is that not only were you not driving the vehicle, but you also weren’t even in the car. How is this possible? In some situations, you can actually be held liable for the damages and injuries a person suffers, even if you had no part in the accident. The following are some common scenarios that can leave you responsible for a car accident when it seems you weren’t even involved. A Jersey City car accident attorney can help you understand how this works.
Someone Borrows Your Car
It’s perfectly okay for you to loan your car to someone as long as they have permission to drive it, and you have the appropriate insurance on your vehicle. You need to make sure that your insurance covers other drivers in the event that they’re in an accident. Unfortunately, you can sometimes still be liable if someone borrows your car and gets into an accident, even if you have proper insurance.
If you regularly share your car with someone, it’s a good idea to name them on your actual insurance policy. Before loaning anyone your car, it’s wise to read your policy in its entirety, including all the fine print. If you’re confused, you can always call the insurance company and ask questions. Then you may want your attorney to double-check what the company says.
Employee Uses Your Car
If you’re a small (or large) business owner and you let employees use your car as part of their work duties, you will probably be responsible if they get into an accident while driving, even if you aren’t with them. It’s also likely that you would be liable for an employee’s car accident if they are using a company car or are required to have a car for employment if they use it to complete their work duties.
Insurance Follows the Car
In the state of New Jersey, car insurance generally follows the vehicle, not the driver. This means if someone uses your car and gets into an accident, your insurance is triggered, and you will have to deal with the consequences. Many people incorrectly believe that if they let someone drive their car and that person has car insurance, the driver’s own personal insurance will kick in should they get into an accident while driving your car. This is not correct in New Jersey. When you loan your car to someone, you’re essentially saying that you trust this person enough to let them drive your car, and you are willing to take all of the responsibility in the event that something happens. If an accident occurs, this can affect your insurance policy, and your premiums and/or deductibles may be increased. The insurance company won’t care that you weren’t personally involved in the accident.
Even scarier is the fact that if your car insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of the injured party’s medical and personal expenses, they could file a personal injury lawsuit against you, even though you technically had nothing to do with the accident.
Before you agree to loan anyone your car, make sure you decide if it’s worth it or not. Do you trust this person? Are they a safe driver? What does your insurance policy say about allowing other drivers to use your car? Make sure you’re aware of the risks and decide accordingly.