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.

Car Accident Client

I was involved in a car accident that left me with a broken leg, thanks to someone running a red light! It was my first time being involved in something like this (totaled car, surgery, and 4 days in the hospital). Through advice of some close friends and family they recommended I get a personal injury lawyer, being relatively new to the Bay Area I had no idea who to go to, so I started shopping around and came across Sally Morin and I instantly felt at ease with them overseeing my case. I was completely right, they handled everything I needed them to do even though the other parties insurance was useless and is so bad they are supposedly being sued by other people for not paying out in spite of that the team here was able to get the full settlement amount. All of this allowed me to completely focus on my physical recovery! A big shout out to Rebecca and Carmen!


Check out our Personal Injury FAQ Page to learn more about how the process works.

We Handle Your Personal Injury Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life

After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including pedestrian and car accidents that involve speeding. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.

We truly care about the people of San Jose and all of California. Contact us today for a
free online case evaluation.


It is essential to know your rights after a traffic accident so you can protect yourself and the value of your claim.
This guide will help you:

  • 1Know what to do when dealing with insurance claims, police reports and lawyers.
  • 2Avoid making mistakes that undermine the value of your claim
  • 3Put yourself in a position to get the best settlement possible