When Someone Gets Into an Accident Driving Your Car

Written by Jobeth Bowers. Posted in .

Nobody wants to get a call saying that your car was involved in an accident when you weren’t even driving. Still, it happens every day in Maryland. After you ensure that everyone receives any necessary medical attention and the person with your permission to drive your car isn’t hurt, your mind immediately turns to how it will affect you and your car insurance policy. 

It will likely affect you, but how much depends on several factors. Take a look at how state law works in terms of someone getting into an accident while driving another’s vehicle, and learn how a Maryland car accident attorney can help you. 

What Are the Immediate Steps to Take if Somebody Else Gets in a Car Accident With Your Car?

The first step to take when someone gets in a car crash in Baltimore, Aberdeen, Elkton, or anywhere else in Maryland while driving your motor vehicle is to document the account of the accident, including the contact information of any witnesses your friend or family member may have received. You will need to file a report and insurance claim with your car insurance company, and knowing what happened is essential. Next, check your car insurance policy to familiarize yourself with your collision coverage, deductible, liability coverage, policy limits, excluded driver clauses, and other auto insurance policy information.

The next step you should take before you even call your insurance company is to call a car accident lawyer. Time is always of the essence due to Maryland’s laws and codes. The state has a strict statute of limitations, and your insurance coverage probably has requirements on how soon you must file a claim. To request a free consultation about your automobile insurance, call 410-885-6200 or complete the online contact form to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer at Bowers Law Firm today.   

Who Is Liable if Someone Else Gets in a Car Accident in Your Car?

According to Maryland auto insurance laws, liability insurance held by a vehicle owner also applies to family members or nonfamily members who are driving the vehicle with the permission of the policyholder. This means your car insurance will likely cover any permissive use of your vehicle. If your family member or friend is the driver of your car and has an accident, they’re covered just as if it was you driving your own car.

Liability, however, comes down to who was at fault for the car crash. If the motorist driving your car was at fault, your own insurance company covers the accident. If someone else caused the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance would be liable to pay.

Essentially, the car owner’s insurance covers the accident, not the driver’s insurance. Car accident claims, however, can be very complicated, and it’s important to have the knowledge and assistance of a personal injury lawyer specializing in car crash cases. 

What Is Permissive vs. Nonpermissive Use of My Vehicle?

Permissive use of a vehicle simply means that the person operating your vehicle has your permission to do so. Most insurance policies in Maryland will cover any drivers who are named on the policy’s primary coverage, or those who have the car owner’s permission to operate the motor vehicle. In short, if you approve of them driving, your insurance company will likely cover them.

Nonpermissive use means that whoever was operating the vehicle did not have your permission. This extends to people who were driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxicants, or who do not own a valid driver’s license. 

If the Driver Has Their Own Insurance, Do I Have to Report the Accident to My Insurance Company?

The general rule in Maryland is that the insurance follows the car, not the driver. This means that if someone else is driving your vehicle with your permission, even if they have their own insurance, your insurance company is the one who will pay for the accident. In essence, by giving another person permission to drive your car, you are accepting responsibility for their use of your car. Any requirements or restrictions on your insurance policy that would apply if you drive the vehicle still apply if someone else is driving.

This means that, yes, you must report the accident to your insurance company if someone else is driving your car. Many people fear that doing so might cause a rise in their car insurance rates, and it may happen, depending on the individual circumstances of the accident.

In some cases, the driver’s insurance may kick in if yours won’t cover the total cost of the accident. This depends on the individual circumstances, but the driver’s insurance can end up being a sort of “backup” or secondary source of coverage that kicks in if needed.

Will Someone Else’s Car Accident in My Car Raise My Car Insurance Rates?

Whether or not someone else wrecking your car will raise your insurance rates depends on a wide range of factors, but the most important is whether the accident was their fault. Suppose another driver was responsible for the wreck and resulting damage. In that case, their insurance is then responsible for paying for things like property damage, personal injury, medical bills, future potential medical expenses, and other economic and noneconomic damages resulting from personal injury claims related to the accident.

How specifically the process works depends very much on the individual policy and the circumstances of the accident. Liability in a car accident depends on proving negligence, which is a legal term that means three factors were involved: 

  • One or more parties violated a basic duty of care to operate a vehicle in a reasonably safe way so as not to put others at risk.
  • That violation of the duty of care led directly or indirectly to the accident in question.
  • The person filing the lawsuit got hurt as a direct result of the accident.

Maryland also has a contributory negligence rule, which means that if the party filing the lawsuit is found to have contributed even 1% to the accident, then no money can be awarded at all. Only when an accident victim is 0% responsible can they be awarded compensation. For this reason, it’s essential that anyone involved in a car accident secures the services of personal injury attorneys who are specialized in car accident claims.

If you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person driving your car had no responsibility for the accident, the other driver’s insurance company may have to pay all the expenses. In this case, it’s possible that your insurance rates may not go up. Otherwise, it comes down to your policy. Some companies have features like accident forgiveness; others do not. In some cases, if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver and your insurance has to pay, your rates could go up even if you were not at fault.

In any case, your best bet to protect your rates and make sure that your friend gets the medical attention they need is always to call a car accident attorney. If you are anywhere in Maryland, from Baltimore to Aberdeen or elsewhere, contact Bowers Law at 410-885-6200 or through our online form to request a free case evaluation and insurance policy review.

What If My Teenager Caused the Accident?

If your teenager caused the accident, your insurance would cover the damages in most situations. Like with a spouse or friend, you will need to report the accident to your insurance company to get coverage.

Maryland also has vicarious liability laws, which mean that parents can be held legally responsible for the actions of their children under certain circumstances. In this case, if your child was driving your car with your permission, is negligent, and caused an accident, then a personal injury claim arises out of the automobile accident caused by your teen. You and your insurance company may be the subject of a lawsuit by the injured driver.

If, however, your child was not driving with your permission, you may not be liable. Generally, in our state, the parent is not held responsible for the child’s negligent acts if they are deliberate or performed without the parents’ knowledge or permission. These issues can get complicated, and if your child is in an accident driving their vehicle, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney to see where you stand.

What Happens if I am Driving Someone Else’s Car and Crash?

If you are driving a family member’s or friend’s car and you had their permission to be behind the wheel, you have a valid driver’s license, and you were not intoxicated, your relative’s or friend’s insurance will cover you for the accident under Maryland law. The situation is reversed for someone else driving your car. Auto insurance in Maryland usually follows the vehicle, not the driver, as a rule. How exactly the legal claims process proceeds depends on the specifics of the insurance policy your friend or relative has, and any exclusions therein.

Someone I Didn’t Know Drove My Car and Got in an Accident

There are three situations in which your insurance won’t pay for an accident in your vehicle:

  1. Under non-permissive use — When someone is driving your car without your permission.
  2. If they’re an excluded driver — Someone you have expressly excluded from your policy or whose circumstances (such as a high-risk driver) otherwise exclude them.
  3. If the driver was unlicensed or under the influence of intoxicants.

If someone you don’t know is driving your car, it is likely that they did not have permission. It isn’t easy to give someone permission to drive your vehicle if you don’t even know them. Still, when dealing with insurance companies in this case, it’s a good idea to have experienced legal representation. The last thing you need is someone you don’t know causing an accident for which you then have to pay.

If someone you don’t know was driving your car and gets into a car wreck, you should contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Bowers Law firm as soon as possible Call 410-885-6200 or use our easy online form for a free consultation.

Find Out How to Protect Your Rights and Your Rates After an Auto Accident

Bowers Law is a client-centered law practice serving clients all across the state of Maryland in such diverse spots as Elkton, Aberdeen, California, and Baltimore. We believe in constant communication, and our legal team includes ace researchers who begin at the source of the accident and build outward. We will work to put together an iron-clad car accident case to protect the rights of victims. We can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and allow you to focus on the all-important task of recovering from your injuries.

We care deeply about every client, and we believe that a major part of our job is to be here to listen when you need us. If you’ve had a car accident in Maryland, or a friend has had one driving your car, we may be able to help. Call or text us at 667-220-6500 or fill out our easy online form to begin your free consultation and insurance policy review.

Jobeth Bowers

Written By Jobeth Bowers

Maryland Attorney Jobeth Bowers is the founder of Bowers Law and a graduate of the University of Baltimore School of Law

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