Who Is Liable if My Friend Crashes My Car?

friend crashes

You might assume if a friend drives your car and crashes it, then their auto insurance policy will cover the damages. However, that is not the case. Auto insurance policies follow the vehicle in the event of an accident. If you are the primary name on your car’s insurance policy, then you are on the hook for any damages.

If your friend gets in a car accident in your vehicle, then the following could happen:

  • Your collision portion of your auto policy will cover damage to your car. If you do not have collision coverage, then any vehicle damage is not covered. 
  • The liability portion of your auto policy will cover injuries to any other driver the crash has caused. 
  • Your friend must be a licensed driver. They do not need to own a car or have their own insurance policy to borrow your car. If they are not licensed, the situation can get complicated quickly, and you both may be liable for the accident. 
  • Your friend’s insurance policy may be used as secondary coverage should the damage they cause exceed your policy limits. Even if your policy can cover all the expenses, your insurance company may try to get money from your friend’s insurance policy, which is called subrogation. 
  • If your friend was drunk and caused an accident or caused a traffic violation, you may still be held liable for any damage they cause. If your friend was found to be texting or negligent in any way, then your insurance company may deny the claim. 
  • Your insurance premiums will likely increase because of the accident. It can also increase if your friend regularly borrows your car and you failed to name them specifically in your policy.

Finally, your friend needs to have permissive use of your vehicle, which means that they have permission to drive your car. Most standard automotive policies are permissive use policies and can apply to a friend or family member who drives your car periodically. If the person is driving your vehicle frequently, then insurance companies will require you to have them named in your policy. 

There are policies that only allow named individuals to drive a specific vehicle, referred to as non-permissive use policies, but those are rare. It is also possible that an insurance company will lower your coverage levels based on a claim involving permissive use.

There are also policies that do not allow anyone else to drive your car, even if they share the same household as you, unless they are specifically named. These are cheaper policies and normally only offer limited coverage. Furthermore, it appears that reputable and popular auto insurance companies do not offer these types of policies. 

If your friend uses your car without your permission, then their auto policy will be primary. However, if they do not have insurance, then liability reverts back to your policy.

New Jersey Car Insurance

Any vehicle registered in New Jersey must have liability insurance, personal injury protection (PIP). Liability insurance does not cover medical costs but covers damages you caused if you are found liable for an accident. 

PIP coverage covers medical expenses when you are injured in a car accident. This is commonly known as no-fault coverage and covers you whether you are responsible for the accident or not. 

Collision coverage is not required in the state of New Jersey, but if you do have it and your friend causes an accident, then your collision coverage will kick in. It does not matter who pays the deductible either, as long as it is paid to the insurance company.      

Comparative Negligence in New Jersey

Comparative negligence is a legal concept referring to how much a plaintiff can recover in a case based on their percentage of fault. For example, if a judge finds the defendant in a case to be 60 percent at fault and the plaintiff 40 percent, then the plaintiff can only recover 40 percent of the damages. However, the plaintiff cannot recover any damages if they are deemed more than 50 percent at fault.

A car accident can get complicated quickly if you do not have the right legal help. This is especially true if your friend borrowed your car and got into an accident. There are many variables at play, and it may be overwhelming to determine what the best course of action is and who to contact for help. 

After contacting your insurance company, do not settle on a lowball offer. Instead, contact a car accident lawyer and let them go over the details of the case, and they can help point you in the right direction. 

Mount Laurel Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman Help Clients With Complicated Accident Cases

A car accident is a difficult experience, especially if your friend causes the collision. If you have been injured in a car accident, speak with one of our Mount Laurel car accident lawyers at the Law Office of David S. Rochman for assistance. Our dedicated legal team has decades of experience with car accident cases, and we can help. Call us today at 856-751-2345 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.