Who May Be Liable if a Vehicle Crashes Into a Building?

Posted on behalf of James Lynch on March 9, 2023  in Car Accident News. Updated on June 5, 2023

Car driving at nightAccording to a 2022 report, about 100 drivers slam their vehicles into buildings each day in the U.S. This number is up 40 percent more than previously thought, yet it is still estimated to be below the actual number of times this happens.

Whether you were injured as a building or vehicle occupant in these incidents, you have the right to pursue compensation for your damages.

Due to the complex nature of these cases, it may be in your best interest to work with our New Jersey auto collision attorneys. We offer a free consultation, and there are no upfront fees for our services.

Below, we discuss what parties may bear liability for your damages and how you may be able to pursue compensation.

The Driver

In many of these cases, the driver of the vehicle that slams into a building is liable for damages. Victims of the accident should be able to file a claim with the driver’s liability insurance to pursue compensation. However, this can get complicated due to New Jersey’s no-fault laws.

Drivers who are injured by the negligence of another driver must first file a claim with their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This means that if the driver of the vehicle that slammed into the building hit another vehicle in the process, the victim, or victims, in that vehicle would need to file a PIP claim. The at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability insurance kicks in once the PIP benefits are exhausted. Accident victims who have a limited right to sue due to their insurance may not be able to file a lawsuit except under certain conditions, like if they suffered a permanent injury.

If only pedestrians or building occupants were injured by the at-fault driver, these individuals may be able to file a third-party claim with the driver’s liability insurance. They may also have the right to file a lawsuit to pursue compensation no matter the extent of their damages.

When a car crashes into a building, the damage caused can be catastrophic, and not just to property. Individuals walking outside or inside the building are at risk of life-threatening injuries. The cost of these damages could be significant, and the at-fault driver may not have enough insurance to cover all expenses. This is when accident victims may need to pursue compensation from other individuals who may bear fault.

The Owner of the Vehicle

If the driver borrowed the vehicle from another individual, the owner of the vehicle may bear some liability for the damages caused by the crash.

The vehicle owner may be vicariously liable even if the vehicle was taken without his or her permission from someone in the household. For example, if the owner left the car keys in an area that could be accessed by a roommate with a suspended license or an unlicensed teen driver.

What if the Vehicle Was Stolen?

If the vehicle that crashed into the building was stolen, the owner may still bear liability if his or her negligent actions resulted in the vehicle being stolen. For example, if the keys were left in an unlocked vehicle.

A vehicle owner may also leave his or her unattended car running while going into a convenience store for a quick errand. If someone steals that vehicle and crashes it into a building, the owner may still be liable because he or she acted negligently by leaving the car running while no one was in the driver’s seat.

The Vehicle Manufacturer

Another party that may bear fault for a vehicle crashing into a building is the manufacturer. This usually only applies if there was a defective part on the vehicle. For example, defective brakes that caused the driver to crash into the building.

If there was a recall on the vehicle for the part that caused the collision, the manufacturer may not be liable if the driver was aware of the recall and failed to have it fixed.

It is illegal for car dealerships or rental car companies to sell or rent out vehicles that have an active recall. Therefore, these entities may be liable if a crash occurs due to the recalled part.

Other Parties That May Bear Partial Liability

There are other parties that may be partially liable for damages if a car crashes into a building. However, these cases are exceedingly rare and could be difficult to prove.

The Property Owner

The owner of the building could be partially liable if there were conditions he or she created or neglected to fix that may have resulted in the driver crashing into the building. For example, if there was construction happening on the building, but there were no precautions taken to rope off certain areas that could result in a collision.

The Government

If the building is owned by a government entity, the municipality could bear partial fault if precautions were not taken when conditions surrounding the building created a hazard for drivers.

The government could also be at least partially liable if the road conditions, such as maintenance or design, contributed to the vehicle crashing into the building.

Call an Experienced Attorney Today

As vehicles crashing into buildings becomes more common, it is important to understand your legal options if you are injured in a crash. These types of cases can be very complex, as multiple parties may be involved.

It may be in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney who can help. Our lawyers have helped accident victims recover the compensation they need for decades.

We offer a free consultation to discuss your claim, and there are no upfront fees.

Call 800-518-0508 today.

* Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

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