What Happens if Someone Gets in an Accident While Driving my Car?
Am I Liable if Someone Else Driving My Car Gets Into an Accident? The quick answer to this question is yes, and no. California law stipulates that car insurance follows the car, not the driver. If anyone gets into a car accident in your vehicle, your car insurance will be involved. You will be held liable at some point. However, you may not be held entirely responsible, depending on the circumstance.
In 2017, there were 193,564 injury crashes in California. This statistic includes 277,160 people injured and 3,582 fatal crashes. Accidents happen. Accidents are costly. They could be expensive today and tomorrow when your insurance rates go up. Here’s everything you need to know about your potential liability when your vehicle is involved, and you weren’t driving it.
Will My Car Insurance Cover Another Driver?
Again, the quick answer to this is yes and no, and also, it depends. It will depend on the kind of accident, the kind of insurance you have, and the kind of insurance your other driver has. California law stipulates the following minimum mandatory coverages for car insurance:
- Bodily injury liability: $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage: $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident
- Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: $3,5000 minimum
Comprehensive and collision coverage is optional in California. Collision coverage is property damage coverage that will cover the cost of your vehicle up to its cash value in the event of a collision. Comprehensive coverage is very similar but refers to a “comprehensive” set of damages that could happen to your vehicle. That could include anything from a natural disaster, something falling on your car or anything that damages your vehicle that is not strictly related to a car accident. When you have comprehensive and collision insurance, damages are covered regardless of the driver.
Car Insurance With Other Drivers in California
Several California insurance laws will help you when someone else drives your car. California car insurance covers your vehicle, not the driver. The types of insurance that will follow the car are as follows:
- Bodily injury liability – covers driver and passenger injuries
- Property damage liability – covers damage to another driver’s car
- Personal injury liability
- Collision insurance – will cover property damage no matter who drives
- Comprehensive insurance – will cover property damage no matter who drives
If the driver you loaned your vehicle to causes damage that surpasses your coverage, their liability insurance will cover it. But this is after your coverage is maxed out. At the same time, California is an at-fault state. That means that the driver found responsible for the collision will see their insurance tapped first.
So, you may not be found liable at all. If someone else driving your car is involved in an accident, and it wasn’t their fault, the other driver will pay. Another benefit to you is that California is also a “pure comparative negligence” state. Victims of a collision can be compensated for damages depending on their negligence. Even when their degree of negligence is higher than the other driver, they can still be covered.
Again, this is likely to be covered by your insurance. You will not need to worry in the event of minor collisions. You’ll barely notice any changes to your insurance costs down the road. But liability becomes more complicated with more complex crashes.
Kinds of Car Crashes
There are some situations where you won’t have to worry if another driver gets into an accident with your car. However, what you have to worry about may be different in every situation. Here are some examples of kinds of car crashes where your liability decreases:
- Stolen car
- Another driver at fault for the collision
- All parties are insured
You may have some complex insurance problems if the person you loan your car to is uninsured. If your vehicle’s driver was at fault without injury, vehicle damage would be covered by your insurance if you have collision coverage. You’ll also have to pay the deductible.
If the driver was at fault and there are injuries, your insurance may apply. Do not be confused about personal injury protection (PIP). This is a kind of insurance coverage in no-fault states and does not apply to California. The driver of your vehicle may have liability insurance to cover their injuries.
If they don’t have insurance, however, yours will be applied. Don’t be afraid to ask if someone has liability insurance before you loan your car. If your vehicle is stolen, you will not assume liability either in the event of personal injury to them. But your collision insurance will be used to cover your property damage.
Steps to Take to Reduce Liability
The easiest way to reduce liability in any car accident is to follow the law. There are penalties for failing to do so, even if it seems complicated at the time. Any driver of your car involved in an accident needs to exchange information with the other driver as soon as possible.
If the driver is not available, if the accident happens in a parking lot, for example, your driver needs to leave a note or phone number with the vehicle. That is if there is only property damage. The law gets more specific in the event of injury. California Vehicle Code Division 10 Section 20008 stipulates somebody must make a report to California Highway Patrol in the event of an injury or death.
That report must be made within 24 hours of the accident. If the driver is unable to do so due to injury, another occupant can make the report. It’s not a good idea to wait on that, though. Division 10 has stipulations from Section 20001 to Section 20013 that covers additional steps you must take, depending on the situation.
The person driving your car still needs to stop the vehicle. The law also requires that the vehicles be moved to a location where they will not impede traffic. This action must happen immediately. Your other driver must also exchange information immediately after the accident.
You must also take action quickly if you intend to pursue legal damages. California law provides a three years statute of limitations in the event of only property damage. If damages are being pursued personal injury, the statute of limitations is two years.
Contact California Injury Lawyers Today to Discuss Your Case
Car accidents are stressful even in the easiest of situations. They may get more complicated if you loaned your vehicle, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. An experienced California car accident attorney can help you navigate this process. California is an at-fault state.
If someone that you don’t know caused the accident, the situation becomes much less stressful immediately. Even so, any injury in your life, even to a loved one that borrowed your car, is going to cause some stress. In many cases, you can recover compensation for them and property damage to your vehicle.
Find out if you have a case today. Contact Arash Law, California personal injury lawyers with decades of experience. We’ve won over 200 million for California residents with personal injury claims. Our firm serves clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation. We’re available 24 hours a day for you.