Your car was in a California road accident, but you weren’t the one driving. Now what? Who’s responsible?
This is more difficult to answer than it may seem. It depends on what was happening at the time of the accident and which types of insurance coverage may apply.
In many cases, you’ll be covered by insurance regardless of whether the driver was at fault or not. But things can get complicated quickly, so read on to understand why.
California Car Insurance Follows the Car
Generally speaking, California car insurance follows the car, not the driver. When we say that it “follows the car,” we mean insurance companies are in the business of insuring cars, not people. When you allow someone else to drive your car, they’re covered by your insurance as if you were driving because the car itself is covered.
If your friend needs to run an errand and you toss them your keys to drive your car, your car insurance should apply to an accident. California is an at-fault insurance state, so if another driver was at fault – not your friend – that driver’s insurance should pay most of the costs.
What if the other person was a pedestrian, not a motorist? If the person driving your car hits a pedestrian, either your insurance should cover the costs or there could be a lawsuit against the pedestrian. Pedestrians aren’t always held blameless for car accidents.
Was Your Car Stolen or Did You Give Permission?
It’s rare that a car’s owner would be held responsible for an accident that occurs after a car has been outright stolen from them. The thief is liable, not the car’s owner. But the line blurs if you know the person and it’s unclear whether you truly gave them permission to drive your car.
Let’s say you tell the insurance company, “My sister took my keys and drove off with my car!” In this case, the insurance compmany might deny your claim for accident coverage and put the blame on your sister – even if you didn’t really mean to call her a thief.
That’s why the things you say immediately after the accident are so important. Talk to a car accident attorney before giving a recorded statement or any kind of detailed statement to the insurance company, police, or anyone else.
Don’t Get Caught Owing Thousands of Dollars
We hope you’re seeing the value of following California’s vehicle laws by having car insurance. It could save you from paying huge medical bills and car repair costs after an accident.
We’d also like to emphasize that including uninsured motorist insurance in your policy is absolutely essential to protecting yourself. If you don’t have this type of insurance, you could be on the hook for the expensive costs of a severe car accident whether you were driving or not.
California only requires a minimum of $15,000 in coverage. But a car accident can easily cause far more than that, which comes straight out of your pocket if you’re not insured. Imagine owing $300,000 simply because someone else crashed your car and you didn’t have the right insurance coverage.
Getting Full and Fair Coverage for the Costs
Every insurance policy has a limit to how much it will cover, which is clearly stated in your policy documents. But you might be wondering what happens if someone is driving your car and is in a catastrophic accident with high costs that go far beyond your coverage limits.
Who will pay everyone’s medical bills? What about the extensive damage to your car?
Whoever was driving your car may have some type of insurance that will kick in to cover the amount above and beyond your auto insurance coverage maximum. Although this is never guaranteed, a good car accident lawyer can help you pursue the right insurance coverage and hold that company to their responsibility to pay for a covered loss.
As you can see, it’s complicated but possible to get the costs covered after someone else crashes your car. Talk to a car accident attorney with experience handling cases like yours. The accident doesn’t have to ruin your life or your finances if you handle it the right way.
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After an accident, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many types of traffic injury claims, including car accidents with spinal cord injuries. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering from your accident while we handle the legal details.
We truly care about the people of California. Contact us today for a free online case evaluation.
A popular question I often get is, what coverage applies when someone else is driving my vehicle and they get in an accident? So the simple answer is, in California the insurance follows the vehicle instead of the driver. So if you grant permission to someone and allow them to drive your car, so either hand them the keys or if it’s just implied that they have permission to drive your vehicle, your insurance coverage would apply if they get an accident or hit a parked car, anything like that. The one caveat to that is if they borrow your car without your permission or your car is stolen or something like that and they get in an accident. But just be careful who you allow to drive your vehicle because your insurance coverage will apply if you grant them permission to drive it.