Most Maryland car accident lawyers assume that the person driving a car is the person who owns it. If they cause an accident, it’s clear whose insurer has to pay up. However, sometimes owners let others borrow their vehicles without considering what would happen if an accident occurred. Other times, vehicles are stolen, and the thief ends up crashing into an unsuspecting person. Exactly how are borrowed car injuries handled in court?
If you’ve been involved in either of these scenarios, you may be anxious about the process of seeking compensation. The truth is that it may be difficult to recover damages in case of borrowed or rented car injuries but it’s not impossible, especially if you hire an experienced Maryland car accident attorney. Let’s look at how these situations are likely to play out.
How Are Borrowed Car Injuries Handled?
If a car owner lets a friend or family member borrow their vehicle and they cause an accident, the owner’s insurance company is likely to be responsible for any damages. This is because car insurance is linked to the vehicle and not the driver. However, it’s possible that the insurance company could refuse to pay. They may explain this by claiming that:
- The person who borrowed the car was driving while intoxicated
- The person was not added as a guest driver on the insurance policy
- The person took the vehicle without the owner’s permission
One of the things that could further affect your case is the concept of negligent entrustment. If the driver gave someone permission to drive their vehicle knowing that they were not a responsible driver, this can be considered negligent entrustment. This means the owner acted negligently by letting the individual borrow the car even though they knew they were likely to drive in a way that could harm others. If the owner was reasonable, they would not have lent the person the car.
Negligent entrustment can include lending a car to an individual who:
- Is underage
- Has a history of reckless driving or multiple car accidents
- Has a revoked or suspended license
- Was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
If one of these proves to be the case, the owner’s insurance carrier may not want to compensate you. However, your attorney may be able to find another way in which you can recover damages.
When the Vehicle Was Stolen
Maryland car accident lawyers know that accidents involving stolen vehicles can be particularly distressing for victims. As we mentioned above, insurance companies may suggest a borrowed vehicle was taken without permission in order to avoid paying damages. If the vehicle was genuinely stolen, you will likely have a difficult time. Not only won’t the thief have insurance on the vehicle, but they’ll be committing a crime. Therefore, the owner of the stolen vehicle isn’t usually held responsible for the actions of the thief.
Instead, you would likely have to rely on your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to help pay for your injuries and other damages. There may also be the option of taking legal action against the owner of the vehicle. Depending on the situation, your attorney may be able to argue that the owner acted negligently in some way such as leaving the keys in the vehicle. It is rare for such lawsuits to be successful, but it is possible.
Another way to get compensation is to prove that the vehicle wasn’t actually stolen and that the owner gave the driver permission to use it. Your Maryland car accident lawyers would have to look into whether the car was reported stolen to the police before the accident. Sometimes, owners falsely claimed their car was stolen when in reality, they lent it to someone.
In any case, individuals who get struck by drivers in stolen cars often find that their claims are complex. If you are such a victim, you’ll need to work with your car accident lawyer to come up with the best course of action.
Contact Pinder Plotkin LLC for Guidance and Representation
Being injured in a car accident is hard enough to handle. Finding out the driver stole the vehicle is even worse. If you’re worried about how you’ll pay your medical bills and cover other losses, reach out to our Maryland car accident lawyers at the Pinder Plotkin firm. We’ll help you to understand your legal options and explain the steps involved in seeking compensation for your injuries. Your first consultation is free and you’re under no obligation to hire us. If you do choose to work with us, we won’t get paid until you do. Call us today to book your case review.