You might find yourself in a situation where you let someone else borrow your car. While nobody wants to think about it, auto accidents can occur. Understanding what happens in such cases is crucial, as it could have an impact on any accident claims made against you.
This article aims to clarify who is responsible when someone else is driving your car and crashes it.
Legal Ownership vs. Actual Driver
The legal owner of a vehicle is the individual who holds the title to it, apart from the lienholder. This person is typically also the one who registers the car with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The person driving at the time of the accident might be the owner, but it could also be someone else who is not listed on the lien or registration.
Typical responsibilities of owners and drivers:
- The legal owner is usually responsible for maintaining the vehicle, including insurance.
- The driver is generally responsible for adhering to traffic laws and operating the vehicle safely.
Insurance Policies and Coverage
The minimum required is liability coverage for:
- $10,000 in property damage
- $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death
- $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident
Additionally, vehicle owners must have "No-Fault" personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover their injury-related expenses. If a driver causes an accident that results in severe injury, the injured party can bring a claim against the at-fault driver for losses that exceed No-Fault limits and non-economic damages.
Whose Insurance Coverage Applies?
Understanding how insurance coverage works when someone else uses and crashes your car is crucial to navigating potential scenarios effectively. Which person’s insurance policy that comes into play largely depends on the extent of the damage caused.
If you have given someone permission to use your car and they are involved in an accident, your property damage liability insurance typically covers the damages to the other person's vehicle. It's essential to note that this coverage follows the car, not the driver.
In addition to property damage liability insurance, coverages such as uninsured motorist protection, and comprehensive insurance follow the car. These coverages protect in various scenarios, ensuring the vehicle is financially safeguarded.
If the costs resulting from the accident exceed your policy limits, the insurance coverage of the person you loaned your car to may come into play. In this situation, your insurance coverage is considered primary, and the other person's is secondary, bridging the gap if necessary.
New York operates under a No-Fault insurance system, meaning that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage follows the driver, not the car, as with liability coverage. If there are injuries involved, the injured party would typically file a claim with their insurer, regardless of whose car they were in. This system streamlines receiving medical benefits and compensations for injuries sustained in car accidents.
The Importance of Understanding Who Is Responsible
Understanding who is responsible when someone else crashes your car is important for every vehicle owner. The legal owner has distinct obligations, including securing proper insurance. The driver, whether they are the owner or not, also has responsibilities, like adhering to traffic laws.
In New York, insurance laws add an extra layer of complexity. Knowing how your insurance works can save you from a lot of trouble and financial strain.
Reach Out to an Attorney About Your Situation
If you find yourself in a complex situation involving a car accident, it is advisable to consult with a personal injury attorney lawyer.