In most car accident cases, determining liability is fairly simple. The first question is which driver caused the accident, as the insurance laws in a state may require the at-fault motorist’s insurer to cover their victims’ medical bills and property expenses.
What happens when someone in a car accident does not own the vehicle they were driving? If you are in a car accident in a friend’s car, the friend’s insurance will generally cover your and any third party’s losses—but not always. You will need to consult a car accident lawyer to know for sure.
Auto insurance policies, in reality, apply to the vehicle just as much as the driver. So long as the friend involved in the accident is not a regular user of the vehicle, the vehicle owner’s auto insurance should cover the friend’s medical bills (and certain other damages).
The car owner’s insurance generally serves as the first financial line of defense for accident-related losses. This includes both losses suffered by the car owner (such as property damage), the friend, and any third parties who suffer injuries, property damages, and other losses because of the collision.
Each state has different approaches to auto insurance, specifically determining whose insurer must pay for whose accident-related losses. Therefore, your attorney will need to establish liability; in doing so, they determine who must pay for your accident-related losses.
If you are the person who caused the car accident while driving a friend’s vehicle, the friend’s auto insurance may cover your losses (and any third party’s losses). However, if you have your own auto insurance, it may serve as a backup form of financial support for you or any third party harmed by the accident.
If you are the vehicle owner and a friend who you let borrow the vehicle caused an accident (or was the victim of an accident), your auto insurance may cover damages. This can affect your auto insurance premiums, and a lawyer can explain any options that may shift liability to your friend.
If you did not give your friend permission to borrow the vehicle, this can affect liability for the accident. The friend’s auto insurer may have to cover accident-related losses, the injured party can try to hold the friend personally liable for any harm they caused.
If a third party caused the collision involving you or your friend, you can hold that third party’s insurer liable for accident-related losses. You can hold the third party liable for any losses exceeding their auto policy’s coverage limits.
States handle auto insurance claims differently, with the two primary insurance approaches being:
Your attorney will consider the insurance laws in your state as they develop a comprehensive strategy for pursuing compensation for you or protecting you from others’ attempts to hold you liable.
Accidents where a vehicle owner is not the driver require personal injury lawyers to address several critical questions, including:
These questions are usually impossible to answer on your own. You need to hire a car accident lawyer to lead your case.
If you are the owner of the vehicle in the accident but weren’t driving the vehicle at the time of the collision, you must protect your financial interests. Depending on the details of the accident and the state in which your accident happened, you may stand to gain or lose much from an insurance claim or lawsuit.
You deserve fair compensation to repair or replace your vehicle. Though your friend may have been behind the wheel, your vehicle took the direct impact of the collision.
A personal injury lawyer will work to secure fair compensation for:
A lawyer will review the circumstances of the accident, evaluate your damages, and propose a strategy specific to your needs.
As the vehicle’s owner, you may be liable if your friend caused the accident. If a third party’s accident-related damages exceed the insurance coverage provided by your policy and any auto policy your friend has, the third party may sue you for financial damages.
State laws vary when it comes to liability for car accidents. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side can spare you from direct liability for an accident you did not cause.
Regardless of whether your friend caused their accident or not, you may face financial liability or deserve compensation for yourself. Hiring a personal injury lawyer will allow you to avoid the complexities of insurance claims or a lawsuit, as they’ll efficiently evaluate your circumstances and provide clear, detailed advice.
If you were driving a friend’s car and were in an accident, consider that:
You can pursue compensation for medical bills, income losses, and other accident-related damages in many ways.
You may secure compensation from:
Even if a third party’s damages exceed insurance coverage, they may sue the vehicle owner for damages.
If a defect in the vehicle caused or contributed to the accident, you may hold your friend personally liable for your accident-related damages.
For example, a vehicle owner who fails to replace worn-out brakes exposes their friend to danger, especially if they don’t inform the friend of the defective brakes before allowing them to borrow the car.
Your own auto insurers may need to know about your accident and may even need to provide compensation to you or others affected by the accident. Always have an attorney provide this notice, as they should carefully handle any and all insurance communications, even with your provider.
Giving an insurer recorded statements can hurt your case if you:
An attorney can prepare you to make any necessary recorded statements. Your lawyer may even arrange for you to submit a carefully crafted written statement without risk of misinterpretation.
You may benefit greatly from hiring a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer will seek any compensation you deserve while protecting you from unfair financial liability for the accident.
Personal injury lawyers generally seek compensation for accident victims. Knowing that car accidents can cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, your attorney may face a tall task.
Personal injury lawyers serve their car accident victim clients by:
Your role in the accident (or lack thereof, if you’re the vehicle owner) may largely determine your options for seeking compensation. Your state’s laws regarding liability and auto insurance coverage will also be relevant.
An experienced personal injury lawyer in your area may be a trove of information about insurance laws. They will combine their existing knowledge with the details of your case (including specific insurance policies) to advise the right strategy.
Once you and your lawyer have identified a strategy for seeking compensation, your lawyer will execute that strategy. They must act quickly because your case likely has a filing deadline for lawsuits (and similar deadlines for insurance claims).
Your attorney will pursue any evidence that can benefit your case, which may include:
Evidence is unique to each car accident case. Your lawyer may work with experienced accident investigators to build a strong, evidence-based case for compensation.
A client’s damages are always the central focus for car accident lawyers. Your attorney will secure any medical images, doctors’ records, medical bills, invoices for property-related services (like vehicle repairs), and other proof of your damages.
Your lawyer will negotiate with insurers or other parties who owe you compensation for a car accident.
Negotiations may require your lawyer to:
If settlement negotiations in your case prove difficult, your attorney should prepare for trial. If you must go to trial, you need a lawyer who will represent you in court.
A lawyer will seek compensation for any damages you suffer in the car accident, which may include:
Your attorney will consider both existing and future damages as they set the bar for settlement negotiations.
A free consultation will allow you to ask a law firm about their services and to understand if a personal injury lawyer is the resource you need. Don’t wait, as a lawyer may need to meet a deadline for filing your case.
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