Borrowed Cars And Accidents: Who Pays For A Victim's Injuries?

Posted on: 29 May 2019

Have you ever loaned your car to a friend or relative? If so, what did you know about that person's driving history, personal habits, and insurance coverage? Did you even know (for certain) that he or she had a valid driver's license at the time?

These are actually all important questions. If you're ever injured in an accident with a negligent driver using a borrowed car, the answer to those questions may play a role in determining who is liable for your injuries. Here's how things work:

Generally Speaking, Auto Insurance Follows The Car

For the most part, car owners are required to carry liability insurance on their cars in case those cars are in an accident, with or without them. The insurance "follows the car," not the insured driver. That means that if someone loans out their car to a buddy and the buddy gets into a wreck, the insurance on the car would cover the damages first. 

If Your Injuries Exceed The Policy Limits On The Car, The Driver May Have To Pay

There are times when the injuries someone suffers from a car accident are so severe that the car owner's insurance policy isn't sufficient to cover the damages. For example, if you suffer a spinal cord injury in a wreck with a negligent driver, a $100,000 policy may not be nearly enough to fairly compensate you.

In those situations, the insurance of the actual negligent driver can be sued to cover the difference between what the insurance on the car paid and what you should be compensated.

There Are Times When A Car's Owner Insurance Isn't Liable

Naturally, there are some exceptions to owner-liability for a car accident. The most common reasons for this is that the driver took the car without the owner's permission.

For example, imagine that you get into a wreck with a teenage driver. You find out that the driver actually took his grandmother's car without her knowledge or consent. In that case, you likely wouldn't be able to hold the grandmother (or her insurance company) responsible for your injuries.

There are times when it's just not entirely clear who bears the final responsibility for an accident, or how much responsibility they bear. If you're in a serious accident with a driver using a borrowed car, it's smart to get the advice of an auto accident attorney early in order to best protect your interests.