What Happens if Someone Else Crashes Your Car?

September 19th, 2023 | by RON BELL

What Happens if Someone Else Crashes Your Car?

Life can be unpredictable, and accidents happen. In New Mexico, getting behind the wheel can be especially treacherous; in fact, on average, more than one person died on New Mexico roads every single day last year, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Getting into a wreck while you’re in control of the vehicle is frightening enough, but being involved in a collision while someone else drives your vehicle can sometimes feel even more traumatic. Car crashes that occur while someone else operates your vehicle are complicated, and the scenario raises a series of intricate questions. What happens to the driver who was behind the wheel of your car? Will your insurance cover the damages? Will you be held responsible if your friend causes the crash or hurts someone else? And what if you’re injured while riding in the passenger seat? In this blog, we’ll discuss what to expect in a situation where someone else crashes your car, how different insurance policies come into play, and why you should consult the experienced car accident lawyers at Ron Bell Injury Lawyers if you’re involved in such a scenario.

Does New Mexico Require Car Insurance?

Yes, New Mexico law states that all drivers must have insurance on their vehicles. Minimum auto liability insurance in New Mexico requires $25,000 for bodily injury to or death of one person, $50,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons, and $10,000 for property damage in any one accident. It is important to keep in mind that these are all minimum requirements – as personal injury lawyers, we know all too well that serious car wrecks can be far more costly than minimum liability coverage.

Generally, car insurance policies are associated with the car, which means they cover the vehicle itself, not the policyholder. This means that, should someone else drive your car with your permission, your auto insurance policy should carry over to the individual driving your car, assuming they are listed as a driver on your policy or fall under a “permissive user” clause (which will be discussed in greater detail later). However, the specifics can vary depending on your insurance policy.

Whose Insurance Policy Pays Out for Car Wrecks Involving a Borrowed Car?

Determining whose insurance policy will cover a collision in a scenario where a vehicle has been borrowed can be tricky, and the answer depends on several factors. Primarily, who was at fault for the collision? If the other driver is found negligent, then the answer is usually simple: their insurance policy will typically cover the property damage and injuries caused to the person who borrowed your car, up to their policy limits. However, if fault is shared, disputed, or (even worse) solely with the individual who borrowed your vehicle, the matter becomes more complicated.

Generally, your insurance company will be on the hook for covering costs for an accident caused by someone driving your vehicle. While this may sound reassuring, your insurance covering a scenario like this could come with serious consequences, depending on your policy. Your insurance may decide to increase your rates if you have to cover a collision involving your car, even if you weren’t driving. If you don’t have enough insurance to cover all the costs after someone else wrecks your car, the individual who borrowed your car may have to use their car insurance policy as a secondary form of coverage for the remaining costs. Additionally, injured parties may be able to pursue compensation directly through the driver – or, unfortunately, you for allowing them to drive your vehicle – if the person who drove your car doesn’t have their own insurance policy, or their policy doesn’t have adequate coverage.

When determining fault in New Mexico, keep in mind that New Mexico follows a pure comparative negligence system. This means that fault will be determined on a percentage based on the degree of responsibility each party had in the accident. The difference between being found 25% at fault or 75% at fault for a collision involving your borrowed car could have major implications for any lawsuits filed. Our New Mexico injury lawyers can help assess the situation and give you the guidance you need for the best outcome possible.

How Much Money Can A Passenger In A Car Accident Get?

If you’re hurt while riding in the passenger seat of your own car when someone else is driving, you are still entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, many accident victims hesitate to reach out to an injury lawyer or file a claim in fear that their friend or loved one in the driver’s seat will have to pay for their medical bills or lost wages out-of-pocket. However, this is very rarely the case. Our team at Ron Bell Injury Lawyers pursues the insurance company for rightful compensation, not the individual. If a friend or relative was behind the wheel and caused a collision that harmed you, you likely have options that will allow you to obtain rightful compensation without directly impacting your loved one.

Other People Occasionally Drive My Car. How Can I Protect Myself Legally?

We get it – cars are expensive. Sharing vehicles, carpooling, or allowing another person to drive your vehicle are not inherently bad things. However, precautions should be taken to ensure you aren’t left footing the bill or paying higher insurance rates down the road due to an accident you didn’t even cause. If you share a vehicle with someone or find yourself loaning it out often, here are a few tips to help protect yourself against a lawsuit:

  • Add a driver to your policy. Anyone who drives your car regularly should be added as a driver to your insurance policy. Most insurance companies require spouses to be included as a driver on their policy. You should also include those within your household who use your vehicle, such as partners/significant others (even if you’re not married), roommates, and newer drivers/dependents who have their learner’s permit or driver’s license. Even those who don’t live at the same address and share a vehicle often should still be listed as a driver, such as friends or family members in different houses. Bottom line, if the individual is driving your vehicle frequently, they need to be added as a driver to your insurance policy. This will provide an extra layer of protection for you in case anything should happen while they are behind the wheel of your vehicle.
  • Loan with caution. For most Americans, vehicles are the second most expensive item they will purchase in their lifetime. While allowing others to share your vehicle is generous, think carefully about who you let use it. Consider their driving record. Do they have any serious traffic violations? Are they a careful driver? Are they a newer driver, or do they have years of experience behind the wheel? Are they currently under the influence, or do they have any prior DUIs? Does this person have their own vehicle, and if they do, do they carry insurance on it? Remember – if they are responsible for a wreck while driving your car, their insurance policy may also come into play! These are all important factors you must consider when loaning out your vehicle to others.

If you rarely loan out your vehicle, check your insurance policy for a “permissive user” clause. This allows you to let others occasionally use your vehicle, such as if a family member is visiting from elsewhere should need to borrow it while they’re in town.

  • Know your policy. Understanding your insurance policy is critical; after an accident, whatever policy you have in place will be all you have to fall back on for that particular crash. You cannot retroactively increase your policy limits for a collision after it has already occurred. If you have minimum liability insurance and someone is seriously injured, policy limits will likely not cover the extensive medical bills, lost wages, or loss of income they incur. Each insurance company has different policy types and supplemental types of insurance that provide significantly greater coverage than minimum liability requirements. While minimum coverage may seem cheaper in the long run, having adequate insurance for catastrophic injuries and accidents is essential in case you or someone you love is injured in a collision.

Call An Experience Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyer Today

Accidents involving someone else driving your car can be stressful and confusing, but understanding your insurance coverage and the legal avenues that protect you can help avoid unwanted complications. When your vehicle is involved in a collision you didn’t cause, untangling the web of fault, insurance policies, and New Mexico injury laws can prove nearly impossible. This is especially true if you’re hurt as a passenger while someone else is driving your car. The last thing an injured victim should concern themselves with is negotiating with the insurance company. Our Albuquerque car accident injury lawyers have dealt with complicated scenarios, such as those involving borrowed vehicles, for over 40 years. We know how to handle the insurance companies, and we’ll fight to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

If you’ve been hurt, call us today at 898-BELL. The consultation is always free, and you never pay us anything unless we’re able to obtain compensation for you.

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