We all have that friend or family member who just needs to borrow the keys to our car for a quick errand. You may hesitantly agree, only to discover that he or she is involved in an accident while out.
What steps should be taken next? Will your insurance cover another driver not listed on your policy? The car accident lawyers at TK Injury Lawyers are here to discuss how liability is established and the rules of insurance coverage when someone else is driving your vehicle.
Tens of thousands of people each year suffer injuries in Texas car crashes.
The 2022 Texas Traffic Crash Facts reveal that:
While you may think that your car will never be involved in a crash, car accidents happen daily. It is important to know the terms of your car insurance policy.
Texas is a “tort” state, meaning that whoever is responsible for an accident must pay for any injuries or property damage caused by the crash.
So, if someone else is driving your vehicle and is involved in an accident but did not cause the accident, then your car insurance will not come into effect. The at-fault driver’s car insurance will be responsible for paying out for damages.
The liable driver often causes a crash by acting negligently. In order to prove that a driver was negligent, the following must be demonstrated:
Typically, your auto policy will cover other licensed drivers that are related to the policyholder and living in the same household. This relationship can be through blood, marriage, or adoption. These persons do not need to be explicitly listed on your policy in order to be covered.
In most circumstances, a driver’s auto insurance policy follows the vehicle, not the individual driver. Therefore, if your friend has permission to drive your vehicle, does not borrow your vehicle on a regular basis, and is a licensed driver, then your auto policy should cover costs associated with the accident.
Of course, your policy will only apply if your friend was responsible for causing the accident in the first place. You will want to consult with a car accident attorney to make sure that your insurance is handling your claim fairly.
There are circumstances in which someone driving your car will not be covered under your auto policy.
Your insurance policy will only come into effect if you give that person permission to drive your car—known as permissive use. If your insurance policy covers permissive use, you may have to pay a higher deductible on a claim. Not all auto policies cover permissive use.
Permissive use does not usually cover business use. If your friend is using your car to make UberEats deliveries, your insurance will not cover any accidents that your pal has while making deliveries.
If your friend did use your car without your permission, then his or her own insurance may need to cover any resulting property damage or injuries to other drivers.
It is important to read the fine print of your policy before lending your car to others.
In certain states, insurance policies come with a ‘named driver exclusion.’ If your auto insurance policy explicitly states that it will not cover any persons listed under the ‘named driver exclusion,’ then your insurance will not be useful if they get into an accident while driving your vehicle.
A person would be named under the driver’s exclusion if he or she is known to be irresponsible behind the wheel. For example, someone with a DUI or multiple accidents may be named under this section.
This is something that you will not need to worry about if you live in Texas. House Bill 259 prohibits ‘named driver exclusion’ policies within the state. This bill went into effect as of September 1, 2019, and applies to all auto policies renewed on or after January 1, 2020.
Your insurance company may attempt to deny a claim if you let an inexperienced or unlicensed driver borrow your car. The reasoning behind this: an insurance company may argue that the accident was avoidable if you had not let the novice driver behind the wheel.
While your insurance carrier may accept your claim, they may raise your premiums moving forward if you continue to let the inexperienced driver use your vehicle.
If you knowingly lend your car to a driver who has a history of being reckless or otherwise careless, you may be facing criminal charges. Similar to vicarious liability, in which an employer will be held responsible for the actions of their employee, negligent entrustment places you “on the hook” for the wrongdoing of someone else.
The standard for negligent entrustment was established in Williams v. Steves Industries, Inc. 699 S.W.2d 570 (1985) and must include the following elements:
In any accident, one person is rarely entirely at fault. After a thorough investigation, an insurance adjuster will assign a percentage of fault to each driver involved in the collision.
For instance, let’s assume that you gave your sister permission to drive your car. If she is determined to be 30% at fault for the accident, and the other driver is 70% at-fault, then your insurance will only have to pay out 30% in damages. (Assuming you gave your sister permission to drive your car and she is not a known reckless driver).
According to Texas law, if you are 50% or less liable, you will be able to recover damages.
A car accident lawyer will review your claim and be able to identify any challenges that may come up. Even if challenges are present, a car accident lawyer can gather the necessary evidence to support your case.
A car accident lawyer will exhaust all avenues to determine each driver’s liability. Video footage can be exceptionally helpful in car accident cases. Many drivers have dashboard cams, and footage is often admissible in court. Additionally, a car accident attorney will take witness testimony and gather any photographs taken at the accident scene to strengthen your case.
It is important that the person who borrowed your car does not admit fault. Anyone who admits fault to an insurance adjuster will most likely lose the chance to have a proper investigation conducted, which could demonstrate the other driver’s contribution to the crash.
Accidents happen regularly and often under less-than-ideal circumstances. If you think that your claim has no merit, we are here to help. Contact TK Injury Lawyers today to schedule your consultation. Legal help is just a phone call away.
Trent Kelly obtained his law degree from the University of Arkansas in 2007. He is licensed to practice law in Texas and regularly assists clients with their legal matters. Trent’s practice is primarily focused on personal injury matters – particularly those involving motor vehicles (such as cars, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and motorcycles) and wrongful death – but he also handles various business litigation matters as well. Click here to take a look at some complex cases Trent has resolved.
Years of experience: +15 years
Location: Austin, TX
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