It’s something we do every day. A friend needs to run some errands, or your sister needs to get to work while her car is in the shop. We lend out vehicles to our family and friends without giving it much thought. After all, they drive it all the time and nothing bad has ever happened…yet.
When you lend someone your car and they get in an accident, it can mean big trouble for you, especially if someone else gets hurt. You may think that the one driving is responsible; however this is not always the case. Get the facts before lending out your car, because what you don’t know can hurt you.
Who Is at Fault?
When someone gets in an accident in your vehicle, the first question you want to ask is “whose fault was the accident?” If it is the other driver, then you are not liable for any injuries or damages. For example, if you lend your friend the car, and another driver rear-ends your car, you and your friend are not at fault, and the other driver is responsible for all expenses.
If, however, your friend is the one to rear-end another car, then you may be found liable for the accident.
As the owner of a vehicle, you can be held liable for an accident, even if you are not the one driving. This means that you may be at fault for any damages caused by your car.
In Florida, we have what is known as a Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, which means that a owner of a dangerous item is liable for any injuries caused by that item. This doctrine leaves vehicle owners liable for accidents that occur in their car.
When Am I Not Liable?
The only time you are not liable in Florida is when the person driving the car did not have your permission to be using the car at the time of the accident. If your car was stolen or used by a person that was not legally allowed to use your car, then the driver is responsible.
For example, if you lend your car to your child, and they then let one of their friends drive the car without your permission, you may not be liable if your child’s friend gets in an accident.
Your car insurance may be able to cover the damages, depending on your type of coverage. Some car insurances will cover other drivers and sometimes the driver themselves will have insurance for driving cars that are not theirs. The best thing to do is check with your insurance company to learn if you are covered.
When to Contact a Lawyer
Car accidents are stressful situations, even if you were not personally involved. If your vehicle has been involved in an accident, then you may be left footing the bill for car repairs, medical bills, physiological trauma, and lost wages.
At LMW, our attorneys have a comprehensive and practical understanding of liability cases, and will fight vigorously for your case. Don’t be left paying for someone else’s mistakes. Contact the experienced attorneys at LMW today.