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Should You Let Your Friend Borrow Your Car?

It’s all likely happened to us at some point or another: your friend/family member asks to borrow your car. Maybe he/she is just running down to the store for a few minutes. Or, maybe borrowing it for the day to get to work because his/her car is in the shop. You don’t want to say no because it’s no big deal to you; you aren’t using the car. But, have you ever thought about what would happen if this friend/family member was in an accident in your car? 

Is it a Good Idea to Loan Your Car to a Friend? 

This is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer, as it depends on a few different things. This situation isn’t as easy as an accident where you were driving your own vehicle. It mostly depends on how much insurance coverage you have and how much coverage your friend has on his/her policy. If your friend was at fault for the accident, you may end up paying to settle the claims against your insurance. 

If your friend does not own a car, then he/she doesn’t have insurance. In this situation, you’d want to call your insurance agent immediately to find out how to get him/her covered while driving your car. 

As a general tip: you should always be cautious when lending your car to another driver. 

Your Car Insurance Policy Is A Contract Agreement

Purchasing car insurance means that you have signed a contract/made an agreement with your car insurance company. In this agreement, you are saying that you will agree to follow the rules of the road and drive as safely as possible. In return, they will provide you with protection, in the event that you are in an accident. The important thing to note here is that you signed that contract with your insurance company; your friend did not. However, if your friend has a car of their own, and has insured that car, his/her insurance policy may come into play.

Most drivers don’t take the time to understand the intricacies of the responsibilities that come with car ownership.  Take the time now to educate yourself about car liability and insurance. 

What Happens If My Friend is In An Accident in My Car?

“I let my friend borrow a car and they got in an accident. What happens now?”

When a person causes an accident in Texas while driving someone else’s car, there are a few different areas of law to consider:

  • Transportation and safety
  • Negligence and civil liability
  • Employer / Employee law
  • Insurance regulations
  • Criminal law

Here are some examples of when a driver would be driving a borrowed car:

  • Employee driver operating an employer-owned vehicle
  • Customers driving a rental car
  • Casual drivers borrowing the vehicle of a friend / family member
  • Thieves / joyriders who have stolen a vehicle
  • In these cases, there may be more than one person or company that is legally responsible for property damage and bodily injuries caused by the accident.

If your friend has an unsafe driving record or doesn’t have a driver’s license, this could be considered “negligent entrustment.”

What Is Negligent Entrustment?

Negligence is another word for carelessness. Car owners who carelessly lend their car to a driver that is considered to be an “unsafe driver” may be responsible for harm the driver causes.

If your friend has a valid license, you could generally assume that your friend is safe to drive. However, you may find yourself legally responsible if you lend your vehicle to a friend that is:

  • Intoxicated
  • Too emotional or tired to drive
  • Unlicensed
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked Driver’s License
  • Driving without glasses or contact lenses (if the Driver’s License requires them)
  • A minor

Pro Tip: Make sure the person driving is someone responsible and safe that you trust.

In Texas, does the insurance policy follow the driver or the vehicle?

This seems to vary state to state. In Texas, insurance usually follows the vehicle. It depends on your auto policy, but if your friend has auto insurance on his/her car, that insurance policy might not cover an accident he/she has if driving your car. 

In sum, even if you were not driving, your auto insurance policy may pay for damage caused by your car that your friend was driving. 

What is PIP? – Texas Personal Injury Protection Insurance 

Under Texas law, your auto insurance provider must offer PIP –  personal injury protection insurance.

No matter who caused the auto accident, here’s the breakdown of what PIP allows:

  • Insured drivers can file a claim with their own insurance company
  • All people driving or riding in the PIP insured vehicle can be covered for their injuries. 

It is fairly common that Texas drivers waive PIP insurance to avoid the extra fee. However, it is a good idea to pay the few bucks extra for PIP insurance so that you are covered if you are in an accident with a driver who has no money or insurance.

About Family Purpose Doctrine

If a parent lets their minor child drive their car, according to Texas law the parent is responsible for any car accident their child causes. This is known as the family purpose doctrine.

Something to note: if the car was taken without the parent’s permission, the parent owner may not be responsible for the collision. This can be a complicated area of law. If you were hurt in an accident by a driver under the age of 18 years old, you should contact a Herrman & Herrman Texas personal injury attorney today to understand your rights.

What are the Types of Permission?

The owner’s responsibility for coverage applies in most cases where a person/friend has permission to borrow the vehicle. “Permission” is legally broken down into:

Written permission – This is when you put it in writing that your friend is permitted to use your car. This can be handwritten, a text message, email, etc. 

Verbal permission – This is the most common, where you tell the person they can use your car. While not written down on paper or sms, this is still completely legitimate.

Implied permission – This is when your actions imply that your friend can take your car. This could be you handing them your car keys, or telling them where you put your keys. 

If you did not give permission to your friend to use your car, and they caused an accident, they may be facing criminal charges. You would likely not be responsible for liability, but there is still the problem of “who is going to pay for the injuries & damages to the injured victims?”  

If you were a victim of an accident where the owner did not give permission and the car caused an accident, you should be able to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company. A knowledgeable lawyer representing you is essential here as an uninsured motorist claim can be challenging since your insurer may fight to pay out as little as possible.You will need to build a strong claim for damages, so having a lawyer that is experienced in negotiating with insurance companies is key! 

Auto Accidents Caused By Poor Automobile Maintenance

Texas law requires all automobile owners to maintain their vehicles so that they are in a safe condition. Maintenance includes: replacing brake pads, replacing tires, maintaining working lights (signals, headlamps, warning lights) etc.

If you let your friend borrow your car that is not in a safe condition, you could be found responsible for any accident that happens. If you are going to lend your car to your friend, you should check it to make sure it is safe before letting him/her drive your car. 

Things To Know Before Lending Your Car

Before letting your friend borrow your car, you should know the following:

Know your insurance coverage. If the person borrowing your car lives in your home, they could be covered by your current insurance policy. Check with your agent to know how your policy is written.

Make sure your policy is up to date. No one will be covered if your policy has expired. Having up to date insurance is legally required in all states. Make sure you have at least the $30,000 minimum amount of coverage.

Why are they using the car? Is your friend going to be out driving for uber in your car? Knowing how your friend will be using the car may save you problems later should there be an accident.

Do they have a valid driver’s license and their own insurance? Making sure you know the answers to these questions is essential. If they are in an accident in your car without a driver’s license and insurance you could be found legally responsible, even if you were not even driving. 

Consult a Herrman & Herrman Texas car accident lawyer today for more information. 

Is Your Friend Borrowing the Car For Work: Ride-share or Deliveries?

A collision can happen with a borrowed car that was being used for:

Ride-share work – Uber and Lyft are the most common rideshare companies. They usually have an insurance policy that comes into effect if one of their drivers causes an accident while they are working. A Herrman & Herrman lawyer can make sure that this covers your injuries if you were in an accident with a driver that borrowed a car to work for a rideshare company. 

Making deliveries – Uber Eats, and Doordash are a few examples here. These companies usually have insurance policies that come into effect for employees working/making deliveries that are in an accident. If you were in an accident by a person that borrowed a car to work for a delivery company, contact Herrman & Herrman today for help with your claim. 

About Herrman & Herrman P.L.L.C.

If you want compensation for your injuries and property damage, contact a Texas personal injury attorney at Herrman & Herrman. We offer free consultations with experienced auto accident attorneys that know Texas law. You do not pay us, unless we win! 

If you are thinking about lending your car to a friend, make sure you understand the risks that come with it if your friend was in an accident in your car. 

With over 100 years of combined experience among the legal team of Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., our Texas personal injury attorneys have successfully resolved over 20,000 cases. When representing injured Texas residents, we fight for justice against wrongdoing and aggressively pursue the best resolution to complex personal injury claims.

If you or a loved one was injured, please contact us for a free initial consultation and case evaluation. Herrman & Herrman, P.L.L.C., is a locally based law firm focused on holding negligent individuals and companies accountable for their wrongdoing. We are not a personal injury mill that advertises nationwide. We provide individualized advocacy in attending to all aspects of claims that involve. Our firm has offices in the following locations: Corpus ChristiCorpus Christi South SideBrownsvilleMcAllenSan AntonioHouston, and Ft. Worth, TX.

We remain by our clients’ side, handling all aspects of their claims and attending to all legal, medical and financial needs. That dedication is combined with experience, legal knowledge, and insight from a former insurance adjuster and several former insurance defense attorneys. Whether our clients are suffering from physical pain from an accident or the emotional grief of death, we treat clients with compassion. We put their mind at ease during difficult times by answering their questions concerning the length of their claim, medical bills, financial compensation and their overall need for a lawyer.

 

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