Can I Be Responsible for Someone Else’s Driving in Florida?
Many people do not realize that they could be found liable for someone else’s driving. These cases arise when you allow a friend or family member to drive your car. Your vehicle insurance will act as the primary coverage, and the driver’s insurance acts as a secondary or excess insurance, if necessary. If your car is in an accident, file a claim and pay the deductible regardless of who was driving. Unfortunately, this means your rates will likely increase.
If you allowed another driver to borrow your car and caused a crash, contact The Umansky Law Firm. Our Orlando auto accident attorneys can guide you through this challenging time and protect you against claims from the other party.
Insurance Coverage and Permissive Use
Whether your insurance policy covers a driver depends on the specific terms and conditions of the policy. In general, your car insurance covers anyone who lives in your house. Many insurance companies even require that everyone in your household who has a license be on your policy. In cases of allowing a friend to borrow your car, they most likely will fall under your insurance because you permitted them. Before ever loaning a friend your vehicle, check the fine print of your policy to understand how your coverage will or will not apply in case of a crash.
Non-Permissive Use of Vehicle
If a driver does not have permission to use your car, you might not be responsible for third-party damages. However, you will likely be responsible for damages to your vehicle. For example, say a friend took your car without asking and was in an accident. You would not be responsible for any damage or injuries other drivers sustained, but you would have to go through your insurance to cover damage to your car.
You must remember that most insurance companies will automatically assume you permitted a friend or family member unless you explicitly deny it in writing, text, or audio. If someone took your vehicle without permission, you have the burden to prove it was a non-permissive use of the vehicle.
Cases Where I Could Be Liable for Another Person’s Driving
There are numerous instances where you can be held responsible for another person’s driving. One such instance is when you allow children who do not have a license to drive since they are inexperienced. Additionally, it is illegal for anyone in Florida to operate a car without a driver’s license. Conversely, you could be liable for your child’s driving if you signed their driver’s license application.
You may also be liable if you allow an incompetent, reckless, or unfit driver to use your vehicle. While this is a vague description, an incompetent, reckless, or unfit driver may include:
- Someone who is or will likely become drunk
- A driver with only a learner’s permit
- Someone who suffers from an illness or takes medication that affects their driving abilities
- Someone with a history of reckless driving
In this situation, the person bringing forward the lawsuit would have to prove that you knew or should have known that the driver was incapable of operating the vehicle.
What to Do After Someone Else Crashes Your Vehicle
It is essential to act quickly after an Orlando accident, particularly if someone else driving your car caused the crash. There might be a lot going through your head, so here are a few things to remember:
Call the Police
In Florida, you must call the police after a car crash if the accident caused death, more than $500 in damage, if a driver was intoxicated, or if it was a hit-and-run accident. If none of those occurred, you have 10 days to report the collision. However, if another person was driving your car, notify the police immediately. They will write a report of the incident, which may be helpful later in your case.
Document the Accident
While you wait for the police to arrive, take photos of the damage to both vehicles. Additionally, you should photograph road and weather conditions and injuries you, the driver, or other passengers sustained. If you are not in the vehicle during the crash, have someone at the accident scene take photos.
Exchange Contact Information
After photographing the accident scene, exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. You will want their name, phone number, address, and insurance policy information. It may also be a good idea to ask for your friend’s insurance provider, as well. If there are any witnesses at the scene, speak to them. They may have vital information about the accident. Before they leave, write down their name and phone number.
Contact an Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Today
Ultimately, car accidents where a friend or family member driving your car causes the crash is more complex than other collisions. An experienced Orlando car accident attorney can provide you with legal counsel for your specific situation. Our lawyers have more than 100 years of combined experience at The Umansky Law Firm and can help you during this difficult time. To schedule a free consultation, call our office or complete our contact form.