If I Get Into An Accident in California While Borrowing A Car, Who Pays?

Wave Image

Car accidents are certainly not on anyone’s list of things they want to happen, but the reality is there are times when accidents do occur. When people are involved in car accidents, the incident often involves a vehicle that they own or lease. But what happens if you get into a California car accident when you are borrowing somebody else’s car? Will the car owner’s insurance be responsible for covering any expenses, or will that liability fall on your insurance carrier? Do you need to hire a car accident lawyer to protect your rights? It is important to understand what happens in this situation.

Car insurance will follow the car, not the driver

Asking to borrow somebody else’s car is not uncommon. Maybe you ask your cousin to borrow her larger SUV so you can take a family vacation. Perhaps you ask your neighbor if you can borrow their car to run to the grocery store and back. While you do everything you can to operate safely and avoid an accident, sometimes accidents are simply unavoidable.

Many people think that car insurance is attached to the driver, but that is not the case. As long as a vehicle owner has insurance coverage, this insurance coverage will follow the vehicle in most situations. The vehicle owner’s car insurance will be the primary coverage that would apply if a crash occurs. The insurance coverage of the person who borrowed the vehicle (if they have insurance coverage) would act as secondary coverage, if necessary.

However, there are some exceptions to this. The two main situations where the owner of the vehicle would not be liable for damages caused by the driver of the board vehicle include:

  • If the driver who borrowed the vehicle was specifically excluded on the insurance policy
  • If the driver took the vehicle without the owner’s permission

When a person first obtains insurance coverage, they will be asked to list everyone in their household. Some car insurance policies will cover every member of the household, but others may only cover those in the household who have their driver’s license. A person may be excluded if they have a poor driving record or previous DUI convictions.

What are California’s car insurance minimums?

Each state is responsible for setting minimum requirements for vehicle insurance. In California, the following insurance minimums are required:

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

You will notice that uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is not required, but it is strongly recommended that drivers consider purchasing this additional coverage.

Accidents are going to happen – make sure you are protected

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were more than 272,000 people injured in traffic accidents during the latest year of data reported to the state. Unfortunately, more than 3,500 (approximately) lose their lives each year in traffic crashes across the state.

Traffic collisions are going to occur, but car insurance plays a vital role in protecting you, your passengers, and others affected in the car accident. Whether you will be driving your own vehicle or borrowing somebody else’s, be sure that the vehicle you are in is insured and that you are covered under this insurance. If you have been in a car accident in California, contact one of our Long Beach personal injury lawyers today. At Harting Simkins & Ryan, LLP, we can help.