New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that generally, when a car accident happens, each driver uses their own insurance, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. However, what happens when one of the drivers is driving a car that belongs to someone else?
What To Do If Someone Else Causes an Accident While Driving Your Car
If someone else causes an accident while driving your car, ask them to complete the same steps you would complete if you were driving.
File a Police Report
It is important to have this documentation to record the details of the accident and to establish that someone else was driving your vehicle when the accident happened. If the police do not respond to the scene, contact the police department to file a report. Get a copy for your records.
Ask the driver of your vehicle to take pictures of the accident scene, the damage to both vehicles and any injuries. It is also helpful to photograph the license plate number and the make and model of the car.
Ask the driver of your vehicle to obtain the name, address, driver’s license number, phone number, email address and insurance information of the driver of the other vehicle. The driver of your car should also provide the other driver with both your insurance information and the driver’s insurance information.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 30 days of the accident. If anyone was seriously injured in the accident, you may want to consult with a personal injury attorney before you talk to your insurance company.
How Someone Else Driving Your Car Affects Insurance Coverage
Many people think of auto insurance as insuring the person driving a vehicle, but in reality, auto insurance insures the vehicle, rather than the driver. In most cases, if you let a friend or family member drive your car, your insurance covers an accident that happens while that person is driving. However, some circumstances can affect who is responsible for paying for damages.
Most auto insurance policies provide coverage for someone else to occasionally drive your car as long as you gave that person permission. However, if you allow someone else to regularly drive your car, you probably need to add that driver to your insurance policy. Some insurance policies do not cover permissive use and some provide reduced coverage or charge higher deductibles.
Stolen Vehicles and Non-Permissive Use
If someone steals your car and causes an accident while driving it, you usually will not be liable for any damages that person causes. If you have collision coverage on the vehicle, it should cover the damage to your vehicle, less the deductible. If someone you know drives your car without permission, usually that person’s insurance will be responsible for paying for any damages that person causes while driving your car.
Sometimes vehicle owners choose to exclude specific drivers, such as a teenage driver or a family member with a poor driving record. Excluding these drivers may lower your insurance premiums.
However, If you allow an excluded driver to drive your car and that person causes an accident, your insurance policy will not cover the damage to your vehicle or any damages that you are liable for to a third party. In this case, you will need to pay these expenses out-of-pocket. In New York, you can not exclude any members of your household who are legally old enough to drive.
If the accident only causes property damage, your collision coverage will usually pay for the damage to your vehicle, less your deductible. If you do not have collision coverage, then you will need to pay for the damage yourself.
Injuries to Another Party
If someone else causes an accident that results in serious injuries or the death of another person while driving your car, the liability portion of your insurance policy will pay first, up to your policy limits, for damages owed to the other party. However, if the limits of your policy are not sufficient to cover all of the other party’s damages, the liability insurance policy of the person who was driving your car will pay the remaining damages, up to the limits of the policy.
What If the Person Who Borrowed Your Car Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If you let someone who does not have auto insurance drive your car and that person causes a serious accident, you could be liable for any damages that exceed the limits of your liability coverage. For this reason, you may want to verify that anyone you let drive your car has insurance coverage.
Injuries to the Driver and Passengers in Your Car
If the person you allowed to drive your car or passengers in your vehicle has injuries from the accident, the Personal Injury Protection coverage on your policy covers their medical expenses, including:
- Ambulance fees
- Prescription drugs
- Physical therapy
- Nursing care
PIP coverage also provides up to $25 per day for expenses such as transportation to medical appointments or medically necessary household help. If the driver or passengers miss work because of their injuries, your PIP coverage may pay for 80% of their lost wages.
If someone died, your PIP coverage may provide coverage for funeral and burial expenses. If another driver caused the accident and the driver or passengers in your car are seriously injured, they may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or file a claim with that driver’s insurance.
The no-fault insurance laws in New York exclude certain people from coverage:
- Non-residents of New York
- People who intentionally cause their own injuries
- Intoxicated drivers
- Injuries that happen during the commission of a felony
- Persons occupying or driving a known stolen vehicle
- Persons conducting a speed test or racing
If you let someone drive your car and any of these exclusions apply, your insurance may not pay for damages caused by an accident.
Circumstances Where Someone May Sue You for an Accident Someone Else Caused With Your Vehicle
People with serious injuries caused by someone else’s negligent driving can sue the owner of the vehicle that was driven by the at-fault driver for their pain and suffering. New York law considers serious injuries to be:
- Permanent loss of body function or organs
- Total disability that lasts at least 90 days
- Bone fractures
If you let someone else drive your car and that person negligently causes an accident that results in serious injuries, the injured person or persons could sue you. The liability coverage on your policy will generally pay for amounts you are legally liable for, up to the limits of your policy. If another driver’s negligence injured people in your car and that driver does not have insurance, the occupants of your car may pursue a claim through your uninsured motorist coverage.
Why You Should Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents that happen when someone other than the owner is driving a vehicle can be complex. A car accident attorney can ensure you don’t pay for any damages you are not legally obligated to pay for. If someone else gets in an accident while driving your car, contact Cellino Law at (800) 555-5555 to schedule a risk-free consultation.