What Happens if Someone Else Is Driving Your Car and Gets in an Accident?
In Arkansas, insurance generally follows the vehicle: So, if you give someone permission to use your car and they crash it, your insurance should cover the damages. However, if you didn’t give them permission—or if they weren’t at fault for the accident—navigating the next steps becomes more complicated.
If someone else is driving your car and crashes, several crucial questions arise: Did you give them permission to drive your car? Are they licensed and insured? Who caused the accident? Our lawyers at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton are here to cover all of the essentials: the next steps after an accident, who has to pay, how insurance factors into all of it, and when you should hire a car accident lawyer.
Read on to learn more about what you should do if you find yourself in this complex scenario—or contact our skilled car accident attorneys for a free consultation today. We’ll advocate for you tirelessly, ensuring that you get the compensation you deserve.
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- How Does Liability and Permission Impact Your Case?
- Insurance Implications: Your Policy vs. Theirs
- Real-World Car Accident Scenarios
- Protecting Your Legal Rights and Insurance Rates
- Steps to Take After an Accident
- A Checklist For Documenting the Auto Accident
- When You Should Contact an Arkansas Car Accident Attorney
- FAQs: Lending Your Car and Accidents
- How Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Can Support You
- Contact Us
How Does Liability and Permission Impact Your Case?
Insurance companies often require that you give explicit consent for someone else to drive your car. Lending your vehicle without proper authorization might complicate the insurance claim process.
Generally, there are two types of use: permissive use and non-permissive use. Here’s a look at each, as well as a couple of special cases.
Permissive use means that you’ve explicitly permitted someone else to drive your car. You can grant permission either verbally or in writing.
Arkansas follows the legal “implied consent” principle when allowing someone to drive your car. This means that if you lend your vehicle to a friend, family member, or someone else regularly, the law may consider that you’ve given implied consent for them to use your vehicle. In such cases, your insurance coverage is more likely to extend to them, even if you haven’t given explicit permission for a specific trip.
If an accident occurs while the driver has your permission, your auto insurance will typically cover damages up to the policy limits. However, you might need additional coverage if the damages exceed your policy limits.
While implied consent is a factor, it’s always a good idea to provide express consent whenever someone else drives your vehicle, especially if it’s not a regular occurrence. Express consent can be as simple as saying, “Sure, you can borrow my car.” Having this express permission can help clear up any potential disputes later.
Non-permissive use, on the other hand, occurs when someone drives your vehicle without your explicit consent. In such cases, your insurance company might not cover the accident because they might argue that you did not authorize the driver to use your car.
If an accident happens with a non-permissive driver, you could be in a sticky situation. Your own insurance company might deny coverage, leaving you and the driver personally responsible for any damages, injuries, or legal consequences. This is why it’s essential to ensure that anyone borrowing your car has your explicit permission.
Arkansas allows car insurance policies to list “excluded drivers.” These are individuals who are explicitly excluded from coverage under your policy. If you’ve excluded someone from your policy and they get into an accident while driving your car, your insurance company is unlikely to cover the damages.
Arkansas, like many states, recognizes the concept of negligent entrustment. If you knowingly lend your car to someone unfit to drive, such as someone with a suspended license or a history of reckless driving, you could be held liable for any damages or injuries they cause in an accident.
Insurance Implications: Your Policy vs. Theirs
In Arkansas, as well as most states in the US, auto insurance generally follows the vehicle instead of the driver. So, in most cases, the primary responsibility for covering damages in an accident involving your car falls on your insurance, regardless of who is behind the wheel.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Role
While your car insurance typically covers anyone with permission to drive your vehicle, the driver’s insurance policy can play a role. If the person borrowing your car has their own insurance, their policy can provide additional protection. It can come into play if the damages exceed the limits of your policy or if their policy offers specific coverage for borrowed or rented vehicles.
Real-World Car Accident Scenarios
Let’s look at some common real-world car crash scenarios and explore how auto insurance coverage is impacted by who’s at fault for the collision.
Remember: No matter which of these scenarios applies to you, you must promptly report the accident to your insurance company and provide them with all the necessary information. If applicable, they will then handle the claims process and negotiations with the other driver’s insurance.
If the person driving your car is at fault for an accident, the liability for the damages generally falls on your insurance policy. In Arkansas, as in most states, the vehicle owner’s insurance is typically the primary coverage. This means that your car insurance will be responsible for covering the costs of property damage, medical expenses, and injuries sustained by the other party involved in the accident.
Your liability coverage, a mandatory component of auto insurance in Arkansas, will come into play. It should help cover the other party’s damages up to the policy limits you have selected. You could be personally responsible for the excess amount if the damages exceed your policy limits.
In Arkansas, if another driver is at fault for the accident, you can seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Your insurer and attorney must negotiate with the at-fault driver for compensation. If you’d like to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation, give our experienced car accident attorneys a call today. We’ll help you with all of the details and build a strong case to get you the payment you deserve.
If the person borrowing your car gets into an accident and either they or the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient coverage (underinsured), your insurance should cover you. In Arkansas, uninsured motorist coverage is required to cover your medical bills, property damage, and other relevant costs if your driver or the other driver lacks insurance.
Your uninsured motorist coverage will be especially important in these situations, as it helps protect you financially when the other driver can’t cover your expenses. Underinsured motorist coverage can also help bridge the gap when the at-fault driver’s auto insurance limits are insufficient to cover your damages.
Protecting Your Legal Rights and Insurance Rates
After a friend wrecks your car, it’s natural to worry about how this will affect your insurance rates and your liability. Fortunately, you can take steps before and after an accident that will reduce your liability and prevent your car insurance rates from skyrocketing.
Before handing over the keys, ask the person borrowing your car to show you their proof of insurance. They should have good coverage that is up-to-date, as their car insurance may help cover if they’re at fault in an accident.
Check the other driver’s driving record before you lend them your car. They should have a valid driver’s license and a clean driving history. It might be best to reconsider lending your car if they have a history of car accidents or traffic violations.
Familiarize yourself with your own auto insurance policy. Understand the car insurance coverage limits, types of insurance (including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage), and any specific terms related to lending your vehicle. Some policies may restrict who can drive your car or for what purposes.
Steps to Take After an Accident
After a car accident, you should tell your friend or family member to seek medical treatment, even if they don’t think they’re injured. Make sure they call 911 and alert the police to the accident. A police report can help your case significantly and establish a clear narrative of who’s at fault.
You must also report the accident to your insurance provider immediately, even if you weren’t driving the car. Provide them with all the relevant details and documentation so they can begin working on your case.
Throughout the process, maintain a record of all communications related to the accident. This includes emails, letters, and phone calls with insurance companies, law enforcement, and legal professionals. This documentation can be essential for resolving disputes.
If disputes or legal complications arise from the accident, consider consulting with an attorney specializing in personal injury or auto accidents. They can help protect your legal rights and provide guidance throughout the process.
A Checklist For Documenting the Auto Accident
Remember, the better your documentation, the better your chances of a smooth insurance claims process and the less likely you are to get caught up in a lengthy legal dispute. Even if you aren’t at the accident scene, you can help the driver gather all the necessary information to protect your interests in the aftermath of an accident. Here’s how:
- Call 911
- Seek medical help
- Exchange information with the other driver
- Insurance cards
- Driver’s license
- Names and contact information
- Make and model of vehicle
- License plate number
- Get names and contact information for eyewitnesses
- Write down the responding officer’s badge number and name
- Contact your insurance company
- Keep good records
- Note accident details
- Time and date
- Weather conditions
- Any other important information
- Gather evidence
- Take photos of vehicle damage and accident scene
- Document injuries
- Write down details of the crash from memory
- Call a lawyer
When You Should Contact an Arkansas Car Accident Attorney
If you’d like an advocate on your side to help protect your interests in the aftermath of an accident, you should reach out to a car accident attorney.
Contacting an attorney after your friend wrecks your car is about protecting your rights, minimizing potential disputes, and ensuring you’re not unfairly burdened with the consequences of the accident. It doesn’t mean you’re taking legal action against your friend; rather, it’s a prudent step to navigate the legal and insurance complexities that can arise in such situations.
Dealing with insurance companies can be tricky, especially in car accidents involving a friend or family member. An Arkansas car accident attorney can help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims and make sure you receive the coverage you’re entitled to. They can also protect your interests if your friend’s insurance isn’t sufficient to cover the damages.
FAQs: Lending Your Car and Accidents
In most cases, when someone borrows your car with your permission and causes an accident, your auto insurance policy is the primary source of liability coverage. This is a standard principle in auto insurance and is often called “permissive use.”
However, it is important to know that liability can vary depending on which state your accident occurs in. In Arkansas, for example, insurance generally follows the vehicle. As long as you permit someone to use your vehicle, your insurance will cover the damages up to your policy limits.
Tennessee operates on a similar principle, where insurance typically follows the vehicle. However, Tennessee law allows for “vicarious liability,” which means
Yes, your insurance premiums can potentially go up even if you weren’t the one driving at the time of an accident. This might seem surprising, but it’s essential to understand how insurance premiums work and why this can happen.
If someone crashes your car, your insurance could be affected. Insurance often follows the vehicle, not the driver. So, if the person driving your car is found at fault, it could impact your insurance rates.
In Arkansas and Tennessee, an accident involving your vehicle goes on your insurance record. By law, your insurance company can consider this accident when determining your rates.
It’s important to note that the extent to which your premiums might increase can vary. Insurance companies have different policies and rating systems. After a friend wrecks your car, it pays to shop around and compare insurance rates.
Absolutely! In most cases, when a family member drives your car and causes an accident, your insurance policy should still cover the damages. This is because many insurance policies extend coverage to household members, even if they are not explicitly listed as drivers on your policy.
You must review your insurance policy to understand how it defines “household members” and what terms apply to family members using your vehicle. Policies can vary, so clarifying the specifics with your insurance provider and an attorney is essential.
How Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Can Support You
After any car accident in Arkansas or Tennessee, you need a reliable and experienced ally by your side. That’s where Rainwater, Holt & Sexton comes in. Our firm has decades of experience and a proven track record of success across a wide range of car accident cases.
We understand that every case is unique. That’s why our attorneys take the time to listen, understand, and address your specific needs and concerns. When you hire us to represent you, you’ll receive the personalized attention and legal guidance you deserve.
In times of uncertainty, having a reliable and experienced legal partner can make all the difference. Rainwater, Holt & Sexton is committed to being that ally for you, advocating for your rights, and working tirelessly to secure the best possible outcome for your case. You can trust us to be with you throughout your journey to justice and recovery.
Let Our Attorneys Advocate for You
Being involved in an auto accident is terrifying and can cause significant financial burdens to you and your family. Arkansas law allows accident victims to collect specific types of compensation after an accident and contacting an experienced attorney can help.
With nine offices in Arkansas and Tennessee – Little Rock, Little Rock-Corporate Hill, Springdale, Conway, Hot Springs, Bryant, Jacksonville, Jonesboro, and Memphis– our personal injury lawyers are easily accessible when you need help.
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