If you’ve been drinking or don’t feel safe behind the wheel, you may feel safer passing your keys over to a friend. Unfortunately, your friends are human and prone to error. Your friends can get into accidents while driving your car, making you abruptly responsible for their post-accident expenses.
How does your insurance coverage work when a friend crashes your car, though? Are you responsible for your friend’s damages, or should they cover their own losses? How can the crash impact your premiums? Moreover, what should you do to begin recovering? These are all questions that New Jersey and Pennsylvania car accident attorneys can help you answer.
First Steps: Get Medical Attention and Document the Accident
Before asking questions about insurance and liability, ensure everyone involved in your car crash is safe. If you have first aid training, use that training to stabilize your friends or other injured parties until first responders arrive. Work with bystanders to get injured parties out of harm’s way as quickly as you can.
If you have the means to do so, consider documenting the scene of your accident. You can collect bystanders’ contact information and take pictures of the accident. The more information you can present regarding negligence and fault, the easier it may be to delegate fault when insurance providers come calling.
That said, don’t feel overwhelmed by your at-the-scene responsibilities. Your first priority should be your and your loved ones’ safety. The sooner you take care of everyone you love, the sooner you can begin brainstorming a path forward.
Contact an Attorney
Your first thought at the scene of an accident may not be to contact an attorney. However, attorneys can help you navigate the hours and days following a friend’s accident without putting additional stress on your shoulders. When you contact an attorney early into your recovery, you can count on experienced car accident lawyers to:
- Communicate with an insurance provider and adjuster on your behalf
- Help you understand what coverage your insurance may offer you
- Prevent an at-fault party from targeting you with false accusations of negligence
- Explain your losses to police officers and related on-the-scene parties
- Discuss your right to a personal injury claim, if applicable
In other words, an attorney can make your recovery seem less like a mountain and more like a molehill. You can count on our team to guide you through insurance’s many hoops and toward the compensation you need to address the losses generated in your friend’s accident.
Insurance Fault and Driver Fault Aren’t Always the Same
An attorney’s primary role after your friend’s car accident is to distinguish between insurance fault and driver fault. If you gave your friend permission to drive your car, and they got into an accident, you and your insurance provider can be liable for their damages. This means that you bear an accident’s insurance fault.
However, the legal fault for the accident falls on the person behind the wheel at the time the accident occurred. If the evidence available at the scene indicates that your friend’s negligence caused the accident, injured parties can hold your friend, not you, liable for their losses.
When you give a friend permission to take your car out onto the road, you informally bring them under your insurance’s wing. While the specifics of your coverage may limit your financial recovery, you may have to turn to your own provider after your friend’s accident. If your friend has insurance, that insurance may serve as your friend’s secondary financial support system.
That said, you have no obligation to offer insurance coverage to someone who drove your car without your permission. Someone who takes your care without permission and crashes it bears the responsibility for their own losses and cannot redirect blame for their accident back onto you.
Talk to Your Insurance Provider
Most insurance providers expect car accident survivors to reach out to an applicable adjuster within 24 hours of an accident. Insurance providers prefer to send out adjusters as soon as they can after an accident so they can assess the nature of the crash and determine what coverage they may be obligated to provide you with.
Even if you can prove that you gave a friend permission to drive your car, your insurance provider may refuse to offer you economic protection in the wake of your losses. Similarly, insurance providers often refuse to protect drivers who engage in illegal activities at the time of an accident, even if those drivers have permission to be behind the wheel of a protected car.
If you think you deserve protection from an insurance provider but have your request denied, let a car accident attorney in Pennsylvania or New Jersey know. Our team can investigate your losses and help you take up a personal injury claim for support if the circumstances allow you to do so.
Consider Investing in Comprehensive Protection Ahead of Time
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania require drivers to invest in minimum liability insurance before they hit the road. That said, you have the option to invest in additional coverage to get ahead of possible accidents. The other forms of insurance available to residents of these states include:
- Underinsured and uninsured car insurance
- Comprehensive coverage
- Collision coverage
- Personal injury protection
You can discuss the need for these forms of coverage with either an insurance provider’s representative or a car accident lawyer. For example, investing in comprehensive coverage can make paying damages after a friend’s accident more bearable if you don’t have the means to delegate that responsibility elsewhere.
Let Our Attorneys Help You Navigate a Friend’s Accident
There are circumstances wherein it’s inherently safer to have a friend drive your car than it is to drive your car yourself. Unfortunately, allowing a friend behind the wheel puts you at significant financial risk. If your friend gets into an accident, you and your insurance provider bear the responsibility for their and a victim’s economic recovery.
You can meet with Rand Spear’s car accident lawyers to discuss your best course of action after an accident involving your friend in your car. Our attorneys can help you communicate your needs with an insurance provider and protect you from unnecessary expenses. Contact us online or over the phone today.