Determining Fault After Borrowed Car Accidents in California

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Do you loan out your car to friends or family members? Do you often borrow someone else’s car? Well, you really need to know about liability in these situations because if an accident occurs, things could get complicated.

Here, we want to discuss insurance issues when a collision occurs and the driver has borrowed the car. It is crucial to understand how this works if you loan your car out or borrow another individual’s car on a regular basis. 

Does the Insurance Follow the Car or the Driver?

It is important to understand how insurance policies work when it comes to borrowed cars. Every vehicle owner is required to purchase and maintain certain types and minimums of insurance. Currently, this includes:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage of $5,000 minimum

Typically, auto insurance coverage follows the car, not the driver, regardless of who may be operating the vehicle at the time. Specific insurance policies will vary in these circumstances, but most often, policies will cover:

  • Any person in the household who possesses a valid driver’s license
  • Any drivers you give permission to borrow your car

Please understand that some insurance policies will specifically not cover certain drivers in your household, and this is something you need to discuss with your insurance carrier.

If an insurance policy does cover a person who borrows a vehicle and an accident occurs, then the insurance carrier will pay for damages if the borrower was at fault for the incident. This payout will continue up to the limits of the policy, but the driver could face additional liability if damages go above the limits of the policy.

Additionally, the person who allowed the car to be barred could be held responsible if they allowed an irresponsible person to operate the vehicle. This includes people known to have a history of reckless driving or if the person loaned the vehicle to someone who was impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Working With an Attorney

If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver in California, you need to reach out to an attorney immediately. Regardless of whether or not the car was borrowed, you should be covered by the vehicle owner’s insurance carrier. However, these claims can become complicated, particularly if the insurance carrier puts up a fight against having to pay compensation.

Your Long Beach car accident attorney will fully investigate every aspect of the claim and work with trusted medical and economic experts to adequately calculate how much you should receive. Importantly, your lawyer will be the one to handle all communication with the insurance carriers involved. This includes negotiations to recover a fair settlement amount. If necessary, your lawyer will help you file a civil personal injury lawsuit against the vehicle owner or the driver of the vehicle, depending on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Typically, you should be able to recover full compensation for your medical bills, property damage expenses, lost income if you cannot work, and pain and suffering damages.