Who Is Liable in a Borrowed Car Accident?

Jul 13, 2021

Photo of a Young Woman Making a Phone Call After a Borrowed Car Accident

It is a common practice for car owners to lend their vehicles to other drivers when the need arises. For example, relatives or friends visiting from out of town may borrow your vehicle to get around. Similarly, a roommate or co-worker may ask to borrow your car to make a quick trip. While you may not hesitate to let others borrow your vehicle, the possibility of an accident occurring should at least cross your mind. What exactly happens in this situation? Also, what should you do if the borrowed car in an accident belongs to you? Our South Carolina car accident lawyers give their responses below. 

Does an Insurance Policy Follow the Car or the Registered Driver? 

Before covering what to do after a borrowed car accident, it is important to discuss your insurance policy. South Carolina requires all drivers to purchase minimum auto liability insurance coverage. This minimum requirement covers bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist incidents. While this coverage follows the driver, your auto insurance may pay out damages in a borrowed car accident. This is because auto insurance typically follows the car, regardless of who may be driving at the time. While specific auto policies may vary, you can likely expect that your policy: 

  • Will cover anyone in your household who possesses a valid driver’s license 
  • Will cover drivers whom you gave permission to borrow your car 
  • Does not cover drivers you specifically excluded from driving your car 
  • Does not cover auto theft incidents 

If your policy covers the person who borrowed your car, then the auto insurance company will pay out damages if this person was at fault for the accident. This payout will occur up to your policy’s limits. Thus, the driver may have to cover any remaining damages left over. 

What Should I Do if the Borrowed Car in an Accident Is Mine? 

So, a member of your household or other permissive driver borrowed your car and got into an accident. What now? Of course, the first thing to do is check in with this person to make sure they are okay. Then, you should take the following steps: 

Step One: File a Police Report 

Often, after an accident, one party will call the police to file an official report. Hopefully, this will have already occurred prior to your hearing about the crash. However, if a police report was not filed, then get this taken care of as soon as possible. You should also obtain a copy of the report when it becomes available. Official reports are a reliable source of important information you may need later when filing a claim. 

Step Two: Check-In With Your Insurance Company 

Next, you will want to inform your auto insurance carrier of the accident. You should let them know that this was a borrowed car accident. With this information, they can review the terms of your policy to determine coverage. Since the crash involved your car, you will be responsible for filing a claim with your auto insurance company. 

Step Three: Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer 

Like any auto accident, a lot depends on proving fault in a borrowed car accident case. This is where seeking legal advice from a lawyer can help, whether you are pursuing or fighting a claim. 

It is important to note that you may become a party to a lawsuit if you lent your vehicle to the at fault driver. By giving this driver permission to use your car, you could be legally liable for negligence. This is especially true for cases in which the driver had a history of negligent or reckless driving. An experienced lawyer can help you secure the best possible outcome in this situation. 

Have More Questions? Contact Our South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers to Learn More 

Auto accidents are never pleasant. Unfortunately, dealing with an insurance company and the legal system afterwards can be equally as unpleasant. That is why our South Carolina car accident lawyers take on these extra burdens for our clients. If you would like to learn more about our services, then get in touch with us today. You can receive a free case evaluation by filling out our confidential online form or by dialing (803) 324-7200.