Are You Liable When Someone Else Drives Your Car?
After a car accident in Maryland, damages are usually paid for by the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. But what if someone else is driving your car and gets into an accident? If anyone is injured, you will need the advice and services of a Silver Spring traffic accident lawyer.
What happens if another individual driving your car causes an accident with injuries? Could you be held liable for a total stranger’s injuries in an accident if you were not even there? And what happens if someone else driving your vehicle is injured in an accident caused by another driver?
If you will keep reading, you will find the answers to these questions, and you will also learn when you can (and when you can’t) be held liable for an accident that involves someone else driving your car.
What if the Driver of the Other Vehicle Was At-Fault?
In the State of Maryland, in most cases, when someone else is driving your vehicle, and another motorist causes an accident, that other motorist will be held liable for the damages.
After an accident caused by another driver, you have the right to file a claim for vehicle damage with the other driver’s car insurance company, and anyone in your vehicle who was injured could bring a personal injury claim. Several exceptions to this general rule will be explained below.
What if the Driver of Your Own Vehicle Was At-Fault?
If someone else who was legally driving your car is at-fault in an accident that causes an injury or injuries, the injured party or parties may submit an injury claim to your auto insurance company. Even though you were not actually there, your insurance will probably pay the damages if either:
- The person who was driving your car is named in your auto insurance policy.
- You gave permission to use your car to the person who was driving it.
If the person who was driving your car has insurance coverage on his or her own vehicle, your policy would provide the primary coverage, and if necessary, the driver’s own policy may “kick in” as secondary coverage.
When Should You Contact a Traffic Accident Attorney?
However, there are several exceptions, instances when your auto insurance company may refuse to pay for damages after an accident that involved someone else driving your car. In some cases, your auto insurance company may refuse to pay even if the driver of your car was not at-fault.
In the following situations, you will need to contact a Silver Spring car accident attorney promptly to learn more and to obtain personalized advice about your legal rights and options:
- When the driver of your car was driving illegally – without a valid driver’s license, or driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol – your insurance probably won’t pay for any damages, whether or not that person was at-fault or had permission to drive the vehicle.
- Anyone who drives your vehicle without your consent may be liable personally for whatever damages he or she may cause. However, it can be difficult to prove that someone you know – especially a family member – had no permission to drive your car.
- You may refuse to let your policy cover certain persons when you know that those persons are high-risk drivers. If an “excluded” driver uses your car anyway – with or without your permission – and an accident happens, you will not be covered.
Parents and legal guardians can exclude their teenagers as drivers if they do not allow a teen to drive or if they are restricting a teen’s driving privileges.
Will Your Insurance Rates Increase?
Of course, auto insurance policies include different provisions and details, so it is important to understand and be familiar with the terms of your own policy.
However, if an accident goes on your insurance record, your rates may increase, and if the person behind the wheel of your vehicle was at-fault for the accident, that rate increase could be considerable. Your auto insurance company may even cancel or decline to renew your policy.
What if Someone is Injured?
When someone is injured in a Maryland accident because another driver was negligent, that person has three years under Maryland’s statute of limitations to bring a personal injury claim. However, you cannot wait three years – or even three weeks – to speak with an attorney.
After an accident that results in one or more injuries, your Silver Spring car accident attorney will need to examine the evidence before it deteriorates (or disappears), and your attorney will also need to speak with any witnesses to the accident before their memories fade.
If an injured victim of negligence waits to take legal action, it becomes more difficult to recover compensation from a negligent driver for that victim’s medical expenses, lost wages, and related damages.
What About Accidents in the District of Columbia?
Washington, D.C. and Maryland are both at-fault auto insurance jurisdictions. However, both jurisdictions also prove no-fault coverage in the form of “PIP” (Personal Injury Protection benefits) and/or “MedPay” (Medical Payments benefits). The process of filing a personal injury claim against a negligent driver is straightforward, but also has some pitfalls if you are not familiar with the laws of each jurisdiction
In either jurisdiction, an injured victim of negligence will need the personalized legal advice and effective representation that a Silver Spring traffic accident lawyer can provide.
How Can You Know Which Lawyer to Choose?
For injured victims of negligence, selecting the right lawyer is not easy. You’re going to need a lawyer who has the legal skills and experience that it takes to prevail on your behalf and recover the compensation you need and deserve.
The award-winning attorneys at Goldberg Finnegan have decades of experience and an impressive record of success on behalf of their clients. If a settlement cannot be negotiated privately, an attorney at Goldberg Finnegan will take your case to trial, explain to a jury how and to what extent you were injured, and ask that jury to order the payment of your compensation.
You will owe no fee to an attorney at Goldberg Finnegan until and unless that attorney recovers your compensation. To learn more, or to begin the legal process, contact the team at Goldberg Finnegan by calling 301-589-2999 to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation and review.