Getting into a car accident comes with a long list of worries: Did anybody get hurt? What’s the damage to your car? Will insurance rates go up? Will you have to miss work? Who’s going to pay for the medical bills? Is someone going to sue you?
The laundry list can feel like it’s endless. But what about if someone else was driving your car? Would you be on the hook for that? And if so, can you do anything to recover out-of-pocket losses from the person who was driving your vehicle?
What happens if someone else is driving my car and gets in an accident in Texas?
In typical lawyer fashion, the answer is: it depends. Whenever someone crashes a borrowed car, the three following elements will come into play:
1. Did the person borrowing the car have permission to drive it?
In order for you to be liable for someone else causing an accident while driving your car is if you gave them permission to drive it. It doesn’t have to be in writing (although that certainly helps), and it doesn’t have to be immediately before the person drove the car. For example, if you have a family member or friend who often borrows your car without any issues, there’s implied consent that the person may continue to do so, even if they didn’t ask you on the day of the accident.
Anyone who’s not the named insured is known in Texas as a “permissive driver”. Generally, this will include people who live in your home, or people who don’t live with you but who typically have permission to drive your car (such as someone who provides child care, a home healthcare provider, or another family member).
If the person driving your car didn’t have your permission to do so (expressed or implied) or if the car was stolen, then no, you wouldn’t be liable for damages caused if that driver got into a car accident.
2. Did the owner of the car have car insurance?
Generally, insurance policies cover the insured vehicle (e.g. not simply the owner of the policy). Whether it’s a significant other, a child of driving age, a friend, or an acquaintance, the driver is also covered by the policy.
This doesn’t mean that coverage is automatic. Once the driver files a claim with their insurance company, the insurer will start an investigation. And while the statute of limitations to file a car accident claim in Texas is two years, the longer you wait to notify your car insurance company, the higher the probability that they may deny coverage.
Now, let’s say that you do have car insurance and that you do report it within a reasonable amount of time. Whether you’ll be on the hook for anything out of pocket will depend on your policy limits. If the limit is $30,000 for bodily injury and $25,000 in property damage, and you cause $50,000 in bodily injury and $30,000 in property damage, you’ll have to come up with $25,000 out of pocket to pay for the difference.
You should also keep in mind that if you have the minimum insurance requirement (also known as liability insurance), that’s not going to cover any damages to your car. n addition to the cost of damages caused to the other person, -you’d have no choice but to pay for the damages to your own vehicle, as well.
3. Who was at fault for the accident?
Texas is a “fault” jurisdiction, which means that a person is held liable for any car accident he or she may cause. So if the person driving the other car caused 100% of the damages, then that person has to pay for everything.
However, Texas is also a comparative negligence jurisdiction, meaning that if the person driving your car was 50% at fault, you’re on the hook for 50% of the damages.
Auto Accident Attorneys in Texas
If you loaned your car to someone, and that person crashed your car, the auto accident attorneys at The Weycer Law Firm can help.
Discuss your case for FREE today by contacting us online or by calling (713) 668-4545.