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Friend Drives Your Car and Gets into an Accident…Who Is Liable?

Jun 29th, 2023

Most of us, at one time or another, have allowed a friend or family member to drive our car. Maybe you’re exceptionally busy and need someone to pick up groceries for you or pick up your child from school. Or maybe your friend’s car is in the shop, and you have one to spare. But what happens if they get into an accident while driving your vehicle? Who will be responsible for the damages? Figuring out who pays the damages can be a little more complicated in these situations. Let’s unravel the question for you.

Insurance Follows the Car, Not the Driver

In most states that have at-fault laws (like Colorado), the at-fault driver is legally responsible for damages caused in an accident. However, auto insurance follows the car, not the driver. That means if a friend borrows your car and gets into an accident that is their fault, in most cases, the injured party can file a claim against your insurance, the same as if you had been the at-fault driver. If the total cost of damages exceeds the cap of what your insurance will cover, then any auto insurance your friend carries can come in as secondary insurance. If they were not insured, in most cases, your friend would be legally liable for any amount not covered by any insurance.

What If the Other Driver Is At Fault?

In an accident where your friend is not at fault, the other driver’s insurance should be responsible for any damages. If your friend had been driving their own car, they would have the right to file a claim against the other driver. So, they should be able to do the same if they are driving your car. As for damages to the vehicle itself, you should also be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance for those damages.

You Might Still Need an Attorney

You might notice that on several occasions, we’ve used the phrase “in most cases.” That’s because there may be special circumstances in which the above rules don’t easily apply. For example, suppose you let a friend drive your car, and they injure someone due to extremely negligent driving. In that case, the injured party (typically through their attorney) may try to sue you as the car’s owner. They do this on the argument that you showed negligence by allowing your friend to borrow your car. There may also be instances where insurance companies might dig in and try to deny payment based on a loophole in their rules regarding other drivers. That’s why in most cases where your car is involved in an accident, you should consult with an experienced attorney. Ensure your rights are protected—whether or not you were the driver at the time.

Were you directly/indirectly involved in an injury accident and are unsure 0f your rights or what claims you may have? Our team of personal injury attorneys has extensive experience with even the most complex cases. Reach out to us to schedule an appointment.