You probably don’t lend your car to just anyone. Most likely, you only entrust it to people who you know are responsible drivers. However, even the best driver can become involved in an accident in Maryland. You, therefore, need to know what is likely to happen if this occurs since liability will be a significant issue.
If the accident is just a minor fender bender, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. However, if serious injuries are involved, you need to contact an experienced Maryland car accident lawyer. If the driver isn’t covered by your insurance policy, there could be some challenges. These accidents can be more complicated than those in which the owner of the car is also the driver.
Liability When the Owner is Not the Driver
If you lend your car to a friend or family member and they caused an accident, you are likely to be held liable. Your insurance company would generally be responsible for covering the losses. This is covered under what is known as the agency law. Typically, anyone who is driving your vehicle is presumed to be an “agent” acting at your direction.
However, there are circumstances in which this isn’t the case. For example, if you didn’t give anyone permission to drive the car, that’s a different story. Your insurer may not be liable for the damages. If your car was stolen, you’re unlikely to be held responsible. In such a case, the vehicle would have been taken without your permission.
You would simply have to prove that the car was stolen. One very important step is to report the theft to the police as soon as possible. In rare cases, victims sue the owner of the car. They may claim the driver negligently left their keys in the car or otherwise failed to secure the vehicle.
Another consideration falls into the category of negligent entrustment. If you gave permission to someone who is known to be an irresponsible driver, you would be considered negligent. That’s because you knew the person would be more likely to get into an accident.
Examples of negligent entrustment including lending your car to someone who:
- Had a suspended driver’s license
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Was under the legal driving age
- Had a history of traffic violations or accidents
- Was elderly and had their license revoked
A Maryland car accident lawyer can help you if you believe an insurance company isn’t treating you fairly.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident
As with any other vehicular accident, you can only be held liable if there’s proof that the driver was negligent. That is, they failed to act reasonably to prevent harm. To prove that the person driving your vehicle was negligent, the other driver’s insurance company will have to prove that:
- The driver owed the other party a duty of care. All motorists have a duty of care to other road users. They must follow the law and drive as safely as possible.
- The driver violated that duty of care. Running a red light, driving while intoxicated, and speeding are all examples of breaches.
- That violation directly led to the person’s injuries. This means they wouldn’t have been harmed were it not for the driver’s actions.
- The individual suffered damages. Because of their injuries, the victim incurred medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other losses.
How Insurance Coverage Will Work
If someone suffered injuries in the accident, your bodily injury liability insurance should cover their losses. If this is not enough, the driver’s liability coverage may cover the rest. In Maryland, drivers must cover a minimum of:
- $30,000 to cover bodily injury or death of one person
- $60,000 to cover total bodily injury or death
- $15,000 per accident to cover property damage
Liability insurance is intended to cover medical expenses and other losses suffered by passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians. It is important to note that if you lend someone your car and they cause an accident, your insurance premiums could go up.
Reach Out to Pinder Plotkin LLC Today!
If someone who was driving your car was involved in a serious accident, a car accident attorney in Maryland could prove invaluable. Call Pinder Plotkin LLC today to schedule a free consultation and get an expert opinion on your case. If you hire us, you only pay when you get compensation. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by calling us.