Car Accident Liability When Friends Or Family Members Were Driving Your Car

Getting into a car accident can be stressful enough. The worry can increase exponentially in situations where a friend or family member was the person driving your car. Many people immediately worry. Will insurance cover the damage? Were they allowed to drive the car? Who is deemed at fault?

How Is Fault Determined?

If a family member, friend, or significant other was driving your car and is not listed as an insured driver, whose insurance applies will depend on 1) which driver is deemed the “at fault” driver in the accident and 2) the specific language policy of the applicable insurance policies. The general rule of thumb is if the person driving the car caused the accident, they are liable for the damage. This does not mean, however, that the person’s insurance policy will cover the accident. Rather, insurance policies typically follow the insured vehicle instead of the policyholder. Therefore, even if a friend or family member causes an accident while driving your vehicle, your insurance policy will typically be responsible for covering the damages. Just like any other accident, if the other driver caused the accident, they will be liable, even if a friend or family member was driving your car.

That being said, every accident is unique, and insurance policies can vary. Insurance policies differ from driver to driver and must be applied on a case-by-case basis. In most scenarios, the family member or friend will have either express or implied permission to use the vehicle. Express permission occurs when you explicitly tell your friend they can borrow your car for a specific use, like going to run an errand at a specific time. Implied permission, however, arises when a friend or family member regularly uses your car with your knowledge and permission. When the insured provides express or implied permission, the insurance policy will typically follow the driver. In certain circumstances, however, your insurance policy may not cover the accident. Some examples include:

  • Situations where the driver did not have permission to drive the vehicle or did not have a valid driver’s license;
  • Accidents where the driver was under the influence of substances such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication;
  • Policies where the driver was explicitly excluded from the insurance policy; or
  • Instances where the driver was using the car for commercial activities, such as driving for companies like Uber, Lyft, or Grub Hub.

Insurance Premium May Rise

Since insurance policies typically follow the car and not the driver, If the friend or family member is deemed the at-fault driver, your insurance premiums will likely increase. Depending on the insurance policy at issue, your insurer may even raise your premiums regardless of what party is deemed liable. However, if you can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, your insurance company will be less likely to raise rates. In instances where your policy included an accident forgiveness provision, premium rates won’t increase after an accident.

Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a legal provision limiting the time you have to file a claim after an accident or another incident. In Georgia, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years from the date of the incident or injury. If you do not file your lawsuit within two years, then your case will be dismissed, and you’ll be unable to sue for damages. The statute of limitations for a personal injury case does not change if another driver was driving the vehicle and was injured or if you were injured as a passenger in the vehicle.

Hire An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney

Regardless of who was driving your vehicle, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. A qualified personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complex laws of a personal injury claim where another driver was driving your vehicle. An experienced personal injury attorney will work with you to gather evidence of the accident and work towards compensation for medical bills, lost wages due to time off from work, etc. They’ll also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf so that they can reach a settlement without going through court proceedings (if possible). Car accidents can be traumatic, but they don’t have to lead to financial ruin. The right lawyer can help you get back on track! The attorneys at Dozier Law Firm, LLC can help. Call 888-239-2129 or contact us online today to schedule a risk-free, confidential consultation.

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I was injured in a terrible fall which left my foot, arm back and knee badly bruised. The Dozier Law Firm was awesome. Attorney Dustin Hamilton reviewed and accepted my case and within a few months he was able to settle my case for more than I ever imagine. The Dozier Law Firm is A+ in my book.

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