Plenty of people have been in the situation of lending their car to a friend or family member. However, you may be wondering, “What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident”? Can you still be held liable even though you didn’t drive the car and were nowhere near the accident scene? Here is what you should know before lending your car to someone else in Georgia:
Car Accidents and Vehicle Insurance
Usually, the most important factor in any car accident claim is to discover who is responsible for the accident. Who owns what vehicles come second as long as the vehicle is insured. Suppose the friend or family member you lent your car to is responsible for a car accident. In that case, the other drivers affected can file an accident claim with your insurance company.
Your insurance company must cover the damages even if you weren’t present and operated the vehicle during the car accident as long as you gave the other party permission to drive your car or they were listed on your vehicle insurance policy.
In car accidents, your own insurance policy will apply to the vehicle you own first, while your friend’s insurance, if they have one, namely collision coverage, can act as secondary insurance.
If a friend or family member isn’t on your insurance and wrecks your vehicle, you may have to pay for the repairs and other damages caused by your own pocket. Your liability insurance may not cover the damages caused.
Suppose a person is injured and suffers other damages. In that case, they can file a personal injury lawsuit against you to seek compensation for property damage, medical expenses, pain, and suffering, even if you weren’t behind the wheel.
Although getting sued for a car accident you didn’t cause doesn’t seem fair, this is why you should always protect yourself from liability by allowing only people who are covered by your insurance to drive your car or have their own insurance coverage.
In some instances, your auto insurance can deny coverage for accidents caused by someone else driving your car, even if the individual driving your car wasn’t at fault for the accident. In this instance, it’s best to consult with a car accident attorney who can help you pursue justice and guide you through your legal options.
Liability in Car Accidents
Under Georgia’s modified comparative fault system, parties involved in a car accident will be assigned a percentage of fault in the aftermath of an investigation. If your friend is discovered to be 50% or more at fault for the car accident driving your vehicle, they may be barred from recovering damages.
However, if they are less than 50% at fault for the car accident, they can seek compensation for their damages, but the degree of fault assigned to them will minimize the total compensation amount.
To understand exactly how your insurance policy comes into play in the event of a car accident caused by someone else driving your car, consult with a car accident attorney. Before lending your car to someone else, always ensure that they are insured and listed on your auto insurance policy.
Proving fault in car accident claims is crucial as your insurance rates will also be affected by the car accident. In most instances, if the friend you borrowed your car to is to be blamed for the car accident, your insurance rates will likely go up. However, this may not be the case if it can be proven that your friend wasn’t responsible for the car accident, which is where, again, a car accident lawyer might be able to help you prove liability.
Steps to Take in a Car Accident in Georgia
When a car accident occurs, everything that your friend does or does not do will be taken into account and affect the claim. They should know exactly how to proceed if an accident occurs. These are the steps they should consider:
- Seeking Emergency Medical Assistance
The most important aspect of any car accident is seeking medical attention immediately. This will ensure that all injuries are assessed and addressed promptly to prioritize health. Secondly, when you seek medical attention, the medical reports will be helpful to establish a causal link between the injuries and the accident.
- Contacting Law Enforcement Agencies
Car accidents resulting in injuries or extensive property damage should be reported to authorities. The police will assess the situation and create an accident report, which will be essential later for insurance claims and other legal proceedings.
- Information Exchange
Your friend should exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident. It is important to obtain the other driver’s name, phone number, driver’s license number, address, and insurance details.
- Evidence and the Insurance Company
Gathering evidence while at the accident scene is also crucial. Your friend must take photos of their injuries, property damage, and road conditions and write down the contact information of possible witnesses. The accident should also be promptly reported to your insurance company, even if another party is responsible.
Lastly, car accidents involving someone else driving your vehicle can come up with all sorts of challenges and complexities. Consulting with a skilled car accident attorney is highly advisable as they can help you navigate the complex legal system, and assist with evidence gathering, negotiations, legal representation, and more.