Who is Liable in California if You Lend Your Car to a Friend and They Are Involved in an Accident?

Imagine the scenario in which your friend has an emergency and needs to borrow your car. You tell them yes, hand over the keys, and they go on their way with your vehicle. Then a few hours later, your friends call to say that they have been involved in a car accident. Can you be liable since it is your car? Keep reading to get the perhaps surprising answer, and then contact Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.

The Answer is Not as Easy as You Think

In a perfect world, we could simply give you one answer that would apply to your situation. This is not a perfect world. Different insurance companies will tell you different things. In fact, when the California Department of Insurance was asked about this specific situation, they said that it is true that insurance generally follows the vehicle, meaning that regardless of who was driving, the vehicle’s insurance applies.

That said, the spokesperson went on to say that it is not always that simple and recommend that the owner of the car checks with their policy issuer to see how their specific policy handles an accident when someone who is not insured to drive the vehicle is driving the vehicle.

The California Department of Insurance spokesperson went further to point out that even if the coverage does follow the car, the owner could potentially be held personally liable for the difference in the coverage and the actual damages of the injured.

What Happens When the Person Driving Your Car is Not at Fault?

The above refers to situations in which the person you have lent your vehicle to is at fault for the accident – but what happens when they are not at fault? This is a little simpler. If another driver was at fault, and they have insurance, then their policy should cover damage to the vehicle as well as medical bills for the driver.

On the other hand, if they do not have insurance, then your own insurance might kick in. Of course, if you do not have liability and/or uninsured/underinsured coverage, then your policy might not cover you. In that case, it is possible that the driver you lent the car to could be liable.

These Are Complicated Situations That Require the Help of an Experienced Attorney

While most of these cases can be cleared up quickly and easily, that is not always the case. If you are dealing with this scenario, we recommend contacting a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure you have the law on your side. You can call Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas now at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.