What Happens If Someone Else Is Driving My Car and Gets in an Accident?

Worried driver sitting on the pavement next to damaged car from accident.

Worried driver sitting on the pavement next to damaged car from accident.If a family member or friend wrecks your car in Georgia, what happens next? Who is responsible? Will your insurance cover the damage? Fear not. In most cases, you will not be left holding the bag. Read on to learn what options you have when your car is wrecked by someone other than yourself.

If you have questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to the personal injury attorneys at Butler Kahn. Our team of attorneys has decades of experience helping Georgians work out the aftermath of auto accidents. We are ready to help you. Call today for a free consultation.

Whose Insurance Applies If My Car Is Involved in an Accident?

The answer to this question depends on who was at fault for the accident and on the language of the governing insurance policies. If the person driving your car caused the accident, they would be liable for the resulting damage. Because most insurance coverage follows the insured vehicle and not the named policyholder, your insurance policy will likely cover their collision.

However, if the driver in someone else’s car caused the accident, that person will be liable for any resulting injuries and property damage. Again, because most insurance policies follow the vehicle and not the policyholder, the other car owner’s insurance may cover damages from the accident.

That said, insurance policies are diverse. These documents can be quite complex and should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Among other variations, the terms of your policy might preclude coverage if the driver:

  • Did not have permission to use your vehicle
  • Was explicitly excluded from your insurance policy
  • Did not have a valid driver’s license
  • Was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Used your car for a commercial activity

The personal injury attorneys at Butler Kahn can help you understand your rights and obligations under your insurance policy. Call us today for a free consultation.

Does It Matter Whether the Other Driver Had Permission to Use My Car?

Yes, whether the other driver had permission to use your car is an important factor. If you give another driver permission to use your car, your insurance will typically cover them in the event of an accident.

Under the “permissive use” doctrine, a vehicle owner should pay for the damage caused by another person driving their vehicle with express or implied permission. Express permission might arise, for example, if you give your friend one-time verbal permission to go to the grocery store using your car. By contrast, implied permission would arise if the friend regularly runs errands in your car with your knowledge.

If you give someone permission to drive your car and it is subsequently involved in a wreck, your insurance policy will act as the primary coverage. This means that it will pay for damages up to your policy limit. If the driver has their own insurance policy, it may act as secondary coverage. If the damage exceeds your own policy limit, this means that their policy might cover the remainder.

However, everything changes if the driver uses your car without permission. In this scenario, the driver will be fully liable for whatever damage they cause. If the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may recover compensation for the damage to your car through your own policy’s uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up If Another Driver Wrecks My Car?

Unfortunately, there is a high chance that your insurance premium will increase if another driver wrecks your car. Remember, your car insurance usually follows your vehicle. From the insurer’s perspective, the cost of insuring your car goes up each time they pay out a claim. Therefore, if the driver behind your steering wheel was at-fault in the accident, your insurer will take note. In some cases, your insurer will even raise your premiums regardless of who was at fault.

What Should I Do After Another Driver Wrecks Your Car?

Learning that your car was involved in an accident can immediately trigger stress and anxiety. However, there are some basic steps that you should take early on to minimize further problems down the road. Consider taking the following steps if your car was involved in someone else’s wreck:

  • Report the accident – Inform the police. If the person that was driving your vehicle will not call the police, do so yourself. The dispatcher will send an officer to the scene to complete an accident report. You will need this authoritative accident report for your insurance claim.
  • Document the scene – It is important to visually document the scene of the accident as soon as possible. Photos and videos will turn into important evidence down the road. Get footage of injuries, vehicle damage, road conditions, weather conditions, signs of impaired driving, nearby surveillance equipment, and any other information that can help create a clearer picture of the accident. Also, ask your vehicle’s driver to write down their recollection of the accident while it is still fresh in their minds.
  • Gather contact information – Gather important information from other drivers involved in the crash. This includes their names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, insurer names, and insurance policy numbers. Also, be sure to identify witnesses to the accident and collect their contact information as well.
  • Beware of insurers – Insurance companies are profit-driven businesses that will always seek to minimize the amount of money they have to pay out in claims. If you are not careful, they will twist your words and misrepresent the facts to more easily deny your claim. Sadly, even your own insurer is not your friend.
  • Consult with an attorney  – Talk to an experienced accident lawyer about your options as soon as possible. They will make sure you know your rights and are not taken advantage of.

An Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

It is bad enough when our car is wrecked in our own accident. But what happens when someone else wrecks your vehicle? Our clients facing this scenario are often unsure of what steps to take next. We are here to make sure they know their rights and help them clean up the mess.

If another driver wrecked your car, having an experienced attorney in your corner can save you time and money. Contact Butler Kahn today to speak with one of our auto accident attorneys at no cost to you. We offer 100% free consultations.

Picture of Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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