How often have we had a friend ask to borrow our keys? While it may seem like no big deal, it may be another story if your friend gets into an accident while out.
You may be confused regarding whose car insurance should pay. Auto insurance policies can be difficult to understand, and your insurer may refuse to pay even if they should be covering the accident.
If someone else was involved in an accident driving your car, Attorney Matthew Andrew is here to offer you legal guidance.
Most car accidents are caused by one driver’s failure to take adequate care behind the wheel, known as negligence.
In establishing negligence, you are proving that the other driver was at fault for the accident. Negligence can be broken down into four elements:
States are either classified as at-fault or no-fault when it comes to car insurance. Idaho is an at-fault or “tort” state, meaning that the driver who is responsible for a car accident is legally liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.
If someone borrowed your car and caused an accident, your insurance policy will be responsible for damages. Although this may not seem fair, it is important to note that insurance is usually tied to the vehicle, not the specific driver.
According to Idaho Code §24-4917, if you give your friend express or implied permission to drive your vehicle, then you are responsible for any injuries or property damage that the person operating your vehicle caused. One person being responsible for the negligence of another is known as “imputed negligence.”
Idaho law puts limits on your liability:
For those people who don’t own a car but borrow and rent cars regularly, you may be required to get non-owner car insurance. Non-owner insurance may be a good option if you are in between cars but don’t want to be without insurance coverage. In Idaho, non-owner car insurance will cover another driver’s bodily injury and property damage claims.
This type of insurance is used as secondary insurance, only to be used after the limits of the borrowed car owner’s policy have been exhausted. Again, your insurance will only be required to cover another driver’s claim if you are found at fault.
Non-owner car insurance usually provides the same liability limits as required by insured drivers in Idaho:25/50/15. For additional coverage, you may be able to add uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
Your car insurance policy will usually cover any family members related to the policyholders and residing in the same home. The policy may not outright state this, but it may be implied.
There are exceptions to the rule. Depending on the terms of your policy, your auto insurer may not cover another driver in certain circumstances.
As previously mentioned, your car insurance will cover another driver if you give that individual permission to drive your vehicle. But what if you did not give another driver permission to use your car?
In this situation, your friend’s car insurance would be the primary coverage for the accident. However, proving that your friend did not have permission to drive your car may be difficult. An experienced car accident lawyer will be crucial in helping you speak with the insurance company.
If your auto policy lists a specific person who is not covered under your insurance, then your insurance cannot be used if that person gets into an accident driving your car. Named drivers would be people who have access to your vehicle but who you do not want driving it.
For instance, if you live with your sister, who has a history of drunk driving, you will likely list her as an excluded driver on your policy. If an excluded driver gets into an accident driving your vehicle, then that driver’s own policy will come into effect. There is a good chance that your own premiums will increase, and your auto insurer may refuse to renew your policy in the future.
Negligent entrustment is when you knowingly lend your vehicle to a person who is incapable of responsibly driving. This may be a driver who has a history of DUIs, a medical condition that prevents them from legally driving (i.e., epilepsy), or someone who has a history of causing accidents.
In Kinney v. Smith, the Supreme Court of Idaho ruled that if a person knowingly lends his vehicle to another person that he knows is inebriated, then the car owner will be responsible for any injuries or damage the drunk driver causes.
Negligent entrustment is a form of imputed negligence. It makes you vicariously responsible for the actions of another person. In cases of negligent entrustment, the insurance company will not cover your claim.
Think twice before you let someone else borrow your car. Even if your friend needs a loaner just to run to the store, letting another person use your car can come with serious ramifications.
If you are negotiating with insurance after your friend or relative has been involved in an accident with your car, we can help. Contact Andrew Injury Law today to schedule your free consultation.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, please fill out the form below for your free consultation or call us at 208-517-7670
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