It’s one thing for you as a driver to get into a car accident. But you may wonder, what happens if your friend wrecked your car?
Besides from a potentially awkward situation between you and your friend, questions of insurance coverage naturally arise.
Who’s liable, you or your friend? What if you didn’t give permission to your friend? Who pays for the damages? What will insurance cover?
Whether your girlfriend or boyfriend crashed your car or a friend crashed your car, we’ll go through the various scenarios and how it will impact your insurance coverage.
Under what circumstances does insurance cover damages?
In the event your friend crashed your car and won’t pay, you may still be covered. Most insurance policies will cover for damages under two common insurance plans:
- Liability insurance: Mandatory in most states, liability insurance covers any damages you’ve (or in this case, your friend) caused to the other driver in the accident. Damages can be in the form of car or injury damage.
- Collision coverage: Collision coverage is typically optional and covers any damage incurred on your vehicle. Depending on your specific insurance policy, a deductible payment is required.
Your insurance company will generally cover your friend because they are considered a ‘permissive driver.’ A ‘permissive driver’ is someone who you’ve given permission to drive your vehicle, regardless if you are present in the vehicle or not.
Note that your insurance will only cover your friend up to whatever limit your policy specifies. For example, if there was $40,000 worth of damages, but your insurance limit is only $25,000, your insurance will only cover the first $25,000. In this case, the outstanding $15,000 will need to come from your friend’s insurance coverage.
When will insurance not cover the accident?
There are instances when insurance will not cover the accident if a friend crashes your car. Some of these instances include:
- Permission was not given: If a friend borrowed your car and crashed it, you won’t need to access your insurance if you did not grant permission to your friend. Your friend will be liable in this case and damages will go through their insurance first. You’ll need to prove that you did not grant permission, however, which can be difficult.
- Excluded driver: Insurance policies often give you an option to explicitly exclude certain people from your plan. If you’ve denoted your friend or family member as an excluded driver, your insurance will not cover the accident.
- Non-valid driver’s license: What happens if your friend wrecks your car and they had a non-valid driver’s license? Not only will you not be covered by your insurance, but you and your friend could be held liable for the accident.
- Driving under the influence: This is another case where most insurance policies will have an exclusion clause. If someone else crashes your car and was under the influence, you’ll likely have no coverage for any damages.
What if the car is stolen?
If your car is stolen and then crashed, you are not liable for any damages to another vehicle. Since it is an unauthorized driver car accident, you are not held responsible for what the thief did with the car. Therefore, neither you nor your insurance company are required to cover any bills.
However, for damages to your own car, you’ll most likely need to access your comprehensive coverage provided by your insurance company. Comprehensive coverage is typically optional and covers damages caused by theft and vandalism when you’re not in the vehicle. Personal items or valuables stolen inside the car are usually not covered by comprehensive coverage, though.
Can you be sued for a friend’s accident?
What happens if your friend wrecked your car and caused significant damage to the other party? Could you be sued for your friend’s accident, even if you were not the one behind the wheel?
The answer is yes, it is a possibility.
Let’s say the damages to the other party were so significant that it exhausted the limits of both you and your friend’s insurance coverage (assuming your friend has coverage). In this case, the other party could sue you to recover for the rest of the damages. Personal assets, such as your property, car, and savings, could be on the line.
Moreover, as the owner of the vehicle, you have a duty to take reasonable precautions when lending out your vehicle to a friend. Your friend may be deemed unfit to drive for a variety of reasons including:
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Not possessing a valid driver’s license
- Lack of driving experience
- Physical impairments (i.e. visual or illness)
If it could be shown that you lent your car out to your friend despite knowing about his driving limitations, a case could be made against you for negligent entrustment.
Similarly, if you knew your car was unfit for the road but still allowed your friend to drive it, you could be held liable. Not maintaining your vehicle up to safety standards is known as ‘negligent maintenance.’
Contact Valiente Mott
Whether it’s serious or minor, navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be complicated. At Valiente Mott, our Las Vegas personal injury attorney team will provide you with the best legal advice given your scenario.
If a friend drove your car and got into an accident, contact Valiente Mott for a free consultation!