Car owners frequently loan their vehicles out to friends or family members, often without giving it another thought. But what happens if someone else was driving your car and got into an accident?
In this situation, you can face legal repercussions due to the accident. You might have liability for the collision even if you were not in the vehicle. Our law firm can provide you with more information about accidents with someone else driving your car.
Understanding Liability for Accidents When Someone Else is Driving Your Car
Many vehicle owners believe that they are not liable if someone else causes an accident while behind the wheel. However, many states hold vehicle owners accountable for the actions of other drivers under the dangerous instrument doctrine.
The dangerous instrument doctrine says that, legally, cars are considered dangerous instruments. Therefore, vehicle owners have a responsibility to ensure that only safe and responsible drivers operate their vehicles.
Allowing a dangerous driver to operate a vehicle places some responsibility on the vehicle’s owner. This responsibility remains even if the vehicle’s owner is not present at the time of the accident.
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Does My Insurance Cover a Car Accident When Someone Else Was Driving My Vehicle?
Florida’s insurance laws generally provide compensation to:
- Other drivers operating your car
- All passengers in your vehicle
- Your family members
Insurance companies frequently provide coverage for pedestrians or bicyclists hit by motorists, as well. This coverage remains consistent if someone else was operating your vehicle at the time of the accident.
Insurance coverage payouts often depend upon the driver’s insurance for their vehicle. Many states require a minimum amount of coverage for drivers to operate a car legally.
Am I Liable if Another Driver Wrecked My Car?
Car accident claims in Florida only go to court in specific circumstances. Generally, individuals can only file a lawsuit against another driver if they sustain a severe injury during the collision. Florida allows lawsuits if a crash leads to:
- Permanent or significant scarring
- A permanent injury
- Loss of a body function
The state also allows individuals to go to court if an accident results in wrongful death. Again, a car accident attorney can advise you in this situation.
What does Express and Implied Permission Mean?
Generally, you are only liable for another driver causing an accident in your vehicle if you permitted the driver to use your car. However, Florida recognizes two types of permission in these cases.
You give another person express permission when you allow someone else to operate your vehicle. For example, let’s say you wanted to go to a party with a friend. Your friend wants to drive your new car.
You have a headache, so you hand your keys over to your friend. You have given your friend express permission to drive your vehicle in this situation.
You may also provide another driver with implied permission to operate your vehicle. Implied approval usually comes from your past actions. For example, imagine that you allow your girlfriend to drive your car to her college class every Wednesday night.
One Wednesday, you are sleeping when she needs to leave. She takes the keys to your car without asking and gets in an accident. In this situation, she had implied permission to take your vehicle, so you could be liable for the accident.
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What Happens If You Crash Someone Else’s Car?
What if you were the driver who borrowed someone else’s car and got into an accident? The insurance company representing the vehicle’s owner could cover your medical expenses in Florida. In this situation, you generally do not turn to your insurance.
The car’s driver could also be partially liable for the accident. However, you could also bear a portion of the responsibility for the collision, especially if you were:
- Driving recklessly, speeding, or swerving between lanes
- Driving after using drugs or drinking alcohol
- Driving while fatigued or distracted
Anyone seriously hurt in the accident could file a legal claim against you in these situations. The injured party could seek compensation from you and the person who owned the vehicle. In this situation, an individual could file a lawsuit to get compensation for:
- Healthcare expenses
- Vehicle repair costs
- Pain and suffering
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reported over 341,000 crashes in 2020. Drivers who caused these crashes faced liability for their actions.
Learn More by Contacting a Car Accident Attorney in Florida Today
What happens if someone else was driving your car and got into an accident? Other drivers could try to hold you accountable for the collision. You can learn more about this situation by contacting Distasio Law Firm today by calling (813) 259-0022.