Who May Be Liable for an Accident Involving a Borrowed Car?

Posted on behalf of Lynch Law Firm on Jun 11, 2021  in Car Accidents News

Silhouette of one person handing car keys to anotherVehicle owners sometimes let their friends or family members drive their car to help them in a pinch or for several days at a time. But what happens when the person who borrows the car causes a crash? Who pays for the victim’s damages?

If you were hurt in an accident with a driver who borrowed a vehicle from someone else, call our New Jersey car accident lawyers to discuss your claim in a free consultation.  

Below, we discuss liability for a borrowed car accident in detail. Remember, we are here to answer your questions about seeking compensation for a crash.

Did the Driver Have Permission to Borrow the Car?

One of the most important factors to consider when determining liability for a borrowed vehicle accident is whether the owner of the vehicle gave the at-fault driver permission to use the vehicle. Generally, a vehicle owner may be held liable for damages if he or she knowingly lent his or her vehicle to someone who caused a crash.  

Implied Permission

Most drivers who borrow a vehicle do so with permission from the owner. However, there are some cases in which no permission was directly given. Instead, there was implied permission.

For example, a person who occasionally lends his or her vehicle to a roommate and leaves the car keys in a common area of the house may have already given implied permission for that roommate to borrow the car.

Negligent Entrustment

If a vehicle owner lends his or her car to a person who has a well-known history of reckless driving, or other negligent behavior, it may be considered negligent entrustment. This is because the owner knew this person was more likely to cause a crash because of his or her reckless driving history. For example, a vehicle owner who lets a drunk person borrow his or her car may be at fault under the theory of negligent entrustment.

What About Excluded Drivers?

Auto insurance policies usually require policyholders to include every licensed driver in a household in the policy. They can list people as included or excluded drivers. When a person is listed as an excluded driver, it means he or she is not covered under the insurance policy. If the owner of the vehicle still granted permission to an excluded driver who then causes a crash, the insurance company may deny liability for damages.

What if the Vehicle Was Stolen?

If the vehicle that crashed into you was stolen, the owner of the vehicle would not be liable for damages. However, if you are hit by a stolen vehicle, the burden of proof shifts to the owner of the car to prove it was stolen before the accident.

Whose Insurance Covers Damages?

New Jersey is a no-fault state, so your injuries are usually paid for by your own Personal Injury Protection. However, you may be able to file a third-party claim through the bodily injury liability insurance of the at-fault vehicle or driver if one exists. This usually only happens if your damages exceed the limits of your insurance policy.

You may be able to file a claim against the driver’s liability insurance and/or the vehicle owner’s liability insurance. For example, if the driver does not have liability insurance, financial responsibility may fall on the owner of the vehicle.

Keep in mind that most drivers who borrow vehicles do so because they lack one of their own and may not have insurance.

What if the Liable Insurer is Refusing to Pay?

After a borrowed car accident, the insurance company that may be liable for damages will look for any way to deny the claim. They may say the driver who caused the crash was not listed on the policy and therefore is not covered. Additionally, if the at-fault driver has liability insurance, his or her insurer may try to deny coverage since the at-fault driver was not driving his or her own vehicle.

Fortunately, our attorneys have decades of experience dealing with insurance companies that try to deny claims and we are prepared to help you fight for the compensation you need.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

If you were injured in an accident caused by a negligent driver who was in a borrowed car, it would be in your best interest to speak to an experienced attorney.

For over 25 years our attorneys have worked hard to help injury victims in New Jersey take on insurance companies to recover the compensation they need for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. There are no upfront fees for our services.

Give us a call today for legal assistance. Phone: (800) 518-0508 .

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