It isn’t unusual to loan your car to someone. Maybe their own car is in the shop, or they might not have the money to get their car fixed. They need to get to work or a medical appointment, so you hand over the keys. Lending your vehicle is the neighborly thing to do, and many people let at least one person drive their car every year.
At Ladah Law Firm, we receive many questions from people who lent their car to someone only to have the borrower get into a wreck. These callers know they have insurance, but they wonder whether the insurance covers the accident. The good news is that, yes, in Nevada, your insurance should cover the accident. Our Las Vegas accident lawyer answers some of the most common questions below.
Yes. This is the type of occasional driver who is covered by your insurance. If your neighbor gets into a wreck, then your insurance will cover the accident. However, you must have given permission to your neighbor to drive the vehicle.
Someone who lives with you is not an “occasional driver.” Instead, this person lives in the house with you. If your spouse or children will drive the car, they need to be listed on the insurance policy.
There are many reasons for treating a family member who drives regularly differently than an occasional driver. For example, someone who drives the car frequently is more likely to get into an accident than someone who drives it once. Insurers need to know who is driving it regularly to properly price the cost of your insurance.
Some policies will exclude certain individuals from driving. For example, an adult child who lives with you might have a DUI conviction and be irresponsible. Adding them to your insurance could also increase your premiums to an unacceptably high level. For these reasons, you exclude them from your policy.
If someone is excluded, they shouldn’t drive your vehicle. However, what happens if you give them permission anyway and they get into a collision?
There’s good news. Under Nevada Revised Statutes § 485.3091, your insurance must still cover them up to the statutory minimum. As of 2022, that means a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury liability for one victim, up to $50,000 in bodily injury liability for more than one victim in a single accident.
As the car owner, you also face legal liability for letting someone drive your car. A vehicle is a dangerous instrument, and the owner will remain legally on the hook if the borrower injures someone. If the victim has losses exceeding the statutory minimum, you can be used personally as the car owner.
Someone who doesn’t have permission isn’t covered by the insurance in the event of a crash. You also wouldn’t be legally liable because you didn’t give permission.
Sometimes, a person steals your car or takes it without permission. In other cases, you give them permission to drive somewhere, like the dentist’s office. But they end up taking it to a concert or a Las Vegas Raiders game. When someone exceeds your permission, many complicated legal issues arise. Please consult with a Las Vegas Accident Lawyer.
Permission is usually verbal and based on telling someone they can use your car and then handing them the keys. There is no requirement that you prove written permission, though that might be helpful. This is really a question of evidence—was there actual permission?
Your rates could increase, definitely. We would need to know more about your driving history and what you currently pay for premiums. But if you let someone borrow your car and they crash, then an insurer will probably increase your premiums.
Yes. If you entrust a car to someone, then you can be legally liable when they get into a collision with it. Again, we need to know more about the facts. For example, did the driver exceed the permission you granted? Did you know the driver was a risky driver?
Nonetheless, the fact is you could be personally sued. If the injured victim seeks more in compensation than you have in insurance, they could come after personal assets, like money in a bank.
Yes. You would submit a claim for compensation to the owner’s insurer. You will negotiate with them for compensation to cover medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering. You should also seek repairs to your own vehicle if you were driving at the time.
If your losses exceed the policy limit, then you might also make a claim on the driver’s insurance (if they have any) as a secondary policy. For example, your neighbor might have let her cousin borrow the car while visiting Nevada. If the cousin hits you, you can make a claim on your neighbor’s policy. You might also make a claim on the cousin’s insurance.
Yes. You could be sued for a hit and run if the borrower flees the scene of the accident. Dash cam footage or nearby surveillance video could catch your car and the police will track you down.
You wouldn’t face criminal liability for fleeing—only the person who borrowed your vehicle would face criminal charges for that. But you could very well end up sued for the injuries a victim suffered.
Yes. For example, you might have collision insurance, which pays to fix your vehicle after a crash. You can use that insurance if a hit and run driver plows into you while someone is driving your car.
Your uninsured motorist coverage (UM) also might come into play. For example, the person who borrowed your car might have suffered bodily injuries in a hit and run. They need medical care and have lost income and pain. They might make a claim on your UM insurance for compensation. Contact a Hit & Run Las Vegas Accident Attorney for more information about how to handle this type of accident.
That’s probably not a good idea. We highly recommend getting your own lawyer to represent you if you are sued. You and the person who was driving the car might have different goals, so there’s a conflict of interest for the attorney. In fact, you might need to point out the driver exceeded your permission to drive your vehicle. For this reason, we recommend securing your own legal counsel.
Car accidents involving borrowed cars present unique wrinkles. Anyone hurt in a crash should meet with an attorney who fully understands Nevada’s insurance laws and how they apply to people who borrow vehicles.
At Ladah Law Firm, we can assist someone hurt in a crash, and we will explain your rights. If you loaned your car to someone, you might also need legal help to negotiate a property damage claim. Call us today at (702) 252-0055 to schedule a free consultation.