What If I Get In An Accident While Driving A Friend's Vehicle?
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If you were driving a friend’s car and got into a car accident, you may be wondering who should pay for the damages. Both you and your friend should have your own insurance, and you both may be on the hook for damages.
The driver who caused the accident will be the liable party, whether that was you or the other driver. The one who caused the accident will be liable to the other person, regardless of whether the car was owned by that person or not.
Whose Insurance Will Pay for the Damages?
Car insurance insures the car, not the person. Drivers occasionally drive and operate cars that are not their own. The car insurance policy attaches to a particular car and will follow that car no matter who operates it. So as long as you are not specifically excluded from coverage, your friend’s insurance would cover the costs of the damage to the vehicle.
However, if your friend’s insurance policy gets maxed out or is not enough to cover the damages, your insurance will act as a secondary coverage and can be tapped into to help cover costs. If you have been in an accident while driving a friend’s vehicle and you both have insurance, your friend’s insurance will be used first and you will only use your insurance if it is not enough to pay for damages.
Different Types of Insurance Coverage
There are five main types of car insurance coverage. These types are liability coverage, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection, collision, and comprehensive. Each state has its own rules on how much insurance coverage is required. Choosing to have more coverage than is mandatory will offer more protection, but will be more expensive.
Liability coverage is a type of insurance that is mandatory in every state. Liability coverage will pay for damages to another vehicle, the driver’s damages, and the passengers when you cause an accident. This will also cover you when another driver causes an accident if they also have liability coverage insurance. The only thing that liability coverage does not pay for is damage to your insured car.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
Very few states require UM coverage mandatory, but more states simply require that UM coverage be offered to the insurance purchaser. UM coverage means that the driver’s insurance company will pay for damages and injuries caused by another driver who is either uninsured or underinsured. This means that UM coverage will pay for damages and injuries beyond the limits of the other driver’s insurance.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Some states have made PIP coverage mandatory. This is in an effort to reduce the number of lawsuits that follow car accidents. PIP covers medical costs and other costs for the insured driver and the passengers, no matter who caused the accident.
Collision coverage is usually optional. It allows a driver’s own insurance to pay for damage to the driver’s vehicle in the event of any collision, regardless of who is at fault.
Comprehensive coverage is usually optional. It is designed to cover the cost of theft or damage to the driver’s vehicle that is caused by something other than a collision. This would cover hitting an animal while driving, weather conditions, fires, floods, or vandalism.
Understanding Coverage Limits and Deductibles
The premium is the amount that is paid monthly by the driver. A monthly premium can increase with the amount of liability coverage chosen and each type of additional coverage. The premium includes a deductible that the insured has to pay in the event of an accident.
Coverage limits are set by the state. Drivers should check with their state’s requirements to make sure they are meeting the minimum required coverage. Drivers can opt for higher coverage limits, but this will lead to a higher monthly premium.
The deductible is the amount that the insured driver has to pay before insurance can take over. Some policies will have a $500 collision deductible, which means that you must pay the damages to your vehicle first up to $500, before insurance can cover the rest. Higher deductibles mean lower monthly premiums.
Can You Be Covered Under Your Friend’s Insurance in a Car Accident?
If you were driving your friend’s car and you were in an accident, property damage liability coverage will usually pay for the repairs to the other vehicle. Most states require liability insurance at a minimum, with other insurance coverage optional. Most liability insurance will cover you if you were driving your friend’s car, unless you were excluded from the policy.
You will be included in the policy coverage if you are a licensed driver who is the spouse or partner of the insured driver, related to the insured driver by blood or marriage, or temporarily using the vehicle with the insured driver’s permission. The insured driver will also have coverage for any vehicle he or she is temporarily using, which means that your insurance should protect you if you drive your friend’s car.
In the event that you are in an accident with your friend’s vehicle, his or her insurance will pay. If you had permission to drive your friend’s car, their insurance will be on the hook, even though they were not the one driving the car. Your insurance will only be used as a secondary form of payment if their insurance is not enough. Getting into an accident with your friend’s car will also cause their premium rates to go up.
Were You a Permissive Driver?
Permissive use allows you to let other drivers use your car without them being listed on your policy. Most insurance policies allow permissive use. You must have had your friend’s permission to borrow the car in order to be covered by their insurance policy. If you borrowed the car without them knowing or did not have their permission, you might not be covered.
Most insurance policies state that the use must only be done periodically. Periodically is defined by most insurers as less than 12 times a year. If you are driving your friend’s car on a regular basis, they should consider adding you to their policy instead. This will protect them in the event you are in an accident and will provide you with additional coverage.
Some states are allowed to reduce coverage limits for permissive drivers that are not listed on your policy. These states allow insurers to drop coverage levels, which means that if you have a large amount of liability insurance, coverage could be reduced to state insurance minimums if a permissive driver is in an accident.
Be Cautious of Driving a Friend’s Car
If you were unlicensed when you drove your friend’s car and were in an accident, their insurance might not pay and you may be cited by the police. Their insurance rates will likely go up after an accident, and it will be on their insurance record. If your friend does not have enough insurance coverage, you might end up with the bill for damages. If you do not have enough insurance coverage for the damages, then you may have to pay out of pocket for damages to their car or to the other car involved.
Consider a Car Accident Attorney
If you were in an accident while driving your friend’s vehicle, the insurance claims and possible personal injury claims can become very complicated. Consider hiring an attorney to assist you with your case. If the accident resulted in an injury, the claims process and litigation could quickly become overwhelming. You and your friend might be liable for damages.
Some states allow claims for vicarious liability, which means that your friend might also be legally responsible for injuries you caused while driving their car with their permission. Be sure to speak with an experienced attorney about your accident and learn your rights. An attorney with experience in handling car accidents will know how to decipher insurance policies and can advocate on your behalf. Trying to handle a claim by yourself can be time consuming.
Consider a car accident attorney from Zinda Law Group to see if we can assist you with your case after getting involved in an accident while driving a friend’s vehicle. Our firm has helped many of our clients save time by giving them the legal assistance they need.
Zinda Law Group May Help You Seek Damages
At Zinda Law Group, our experienced car accident lawyers have handled many cases involving car accident victims. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you determine what to do next and to help recover the best possible outcome for your case.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.