As Baltimore car accident injury lawyers, we are occasionally asked ‘what happens if someone else is driving my car and crashes in MD?’ This is a good question because people who borrow cars and the owners are not always aware of insurance and liability issues.

It’s surprising how few people know who pays for the damage if you crash a friend’s car. There is a popular myth that car insurance attaches to the driver. In fact, insurance is linked to the vehicle. A Baltimore auto accident lawyer can deal with the specifics of your case.

Maryland car accident lawyer Randolph Rice looks at the question ‘what happens if someone else is driving my car and crashes in MD?’

What Happens if Your Borrowed Car is in a Crash in Maryland?

Many of us borrow a friend or a family member’s car, pickup or SUV without thinking about the consequences of a wreck. Usually, when a third party drives your car he or she has permission. However, you should be explicit in giving the person who takes your car permission. Always base the decision on whether the borrower is a responsible driver. Maryland law views the car driver as an agent of the vehicle’s owner.

If you borrow your cousin’s car, for example, your cousin’s insurance policy would cover the costs of a property damage claim and a personal injury claim. This could mean your cousin ends up paying high insurance premiums if you caused an accident. This scenario assumes your cousin lives in a different household. If someone else is driving your car and crashes in Maryland, the driver could sustain injuries, the car will likely be damaged, and other people could be injured. You may need to get i contact with a Maryland personal injury attorney

What Happens if Someone Else Who is Driving Your Car is Injured?

The car owner’s insurance will primarily be responsible to pay the costs of the accident. However, the driver’s insurance policy could pay up for certain aspects of the claim.

For instance, the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) element of your car insurance coverage on your auto policy can pay up to the limits of the policy, irrespective of fault. The Medical Payments Coverage (Med Pay) element of the driver’s policy can pay to the limits of the policy. The liability insurance coverage of the driver’s policy may pay claims over auto insurance limits in the car owner’s policy. A Maryland personal injury protection lawyer may be able to provide more insight on this. 

If the driver caused an accident within the limits of the car owner’s auto insurance policy, the owner’s  policy would pay the claim and your policy would not be used at all.

Permission is vital in borrowed car scenarios. One of the first questions an insurance company will ask an injured driver is if the owner allowed them to borrow the car. In the absence of permission, you will likely not receive any compensation under your friend or family member’s insurance policy. You should be wary of vague arrangements. The driver may assume he or she had permission to borrow a car when this was not the case.

What Happens if Other People Are Injured by a Driver in a Borrowed Car in MD?

If a car, truck or SUV owner lends the vehicle to a friend and the friend crashes in MD, injuring someone else, the primary liability coverage is the car owner’s insurance policy. The driver’s liability insurance is secondary liability coverage.

For example, if the car owner has $35,000 in bodily injury liability, this would be the primary insurance policy. However, if the injured person’s damages are $40,000, the driver’s liability insurance would cover the remaining $5,000.

When you loan a car to someone you should be aware that your insurance premiums can increase if they end up causing a wreck, and multiple claims from other motorists can be made on your insurance policy.

What Happens if a Car Owner Knows the Driver is Irresponsible?

Maryland has a law called negligent entrustment. This means a car owner may be held liable for a wreck even when he or she was not behind the wheel or even in the car. Negligent entrustment covers situations where the car owner should not have loaned out the car.

Examples of negligent entrustment include:

  • You loan a car to someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • You let someone under the legal driving age drive;
  • You are aware the driver’s license was suspended;
  • The driver is elderly. Their license was revoked;
  • You loaned the car to someone with a history of accidents and driving convictions.

What Happens if Someone is Driving a Car Owned by an Employer?

An employer can be held liable for crashes in MD caused by an employee driving a work car, van, bus or truck. People who are injured by truck drivers routinely sue the trucking company under the law of vicarious liability. It was demonstrated in a high-profile lawsuit brought after a deadly bus crash in Baltimore in 2016. 

A crash between a school bus and a Maryland Transit Administration bus in Baltimore killed five and  injured 11 other victims. The Baltimore Sun reported on a lawsuit on behalf of all the victims, seeking more than $10 million in damages. The injured and the families of the dead argued that the driver of the school bus, which hit the Maryland Transit Administration bus, should have been disqualified from gaining a license to operate a commercial vehicle. The lawsuit claimed the driver suffered from a list of medical issues, including diabetes, seizures, and hypertension, that affected his ability to operate a bus. The driver caused many accidents in the past.

Rather than filing the lawsuit against the bus driver responsible for the wreck, the victims sued both his employer and the company responsible for issuing his license. The victims used vicarious liability. Bus and trucking companies usually have higher insurance policy thresholds than private individuals.

What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Stolen Car and Crashes in MD?

The victims of a crash caused by a stolen car are not usually able to successfully sue the owner of the car. You should not be liable for any accidents the car thief caused because you were not to blame for them. The criminal did not have permission to take your car. You have a good defense as long as you can prove the car was stolen. Report a car theft to the police as soon as possible. Your insurance company should cover damage to the car caused by the thief as long as you have a comprehensive policy.

In rare cases, the people hurt in car wrecks try to sue the car owners. They may argue the owner was negligent for leaving a key in a car or leaving the vehicle uninsured. The onus is on the person who brings the lawsuit to show you were liable.

Accidents involving stolen cars can be a nightmare for victims who are hurt in a crash caused by the car thief. Unable to claim for their injuries, they may be able to make a claim against the car thief’s insurance policy. However, many people who steal cars are uninsured. They may leave the scene of a wreck. Victims usually claim for their injuries on their uninsured/underinsured motorist policies (UM/UIM). The claim is made against their own insurance company.

Ask an Injury Lawyer: What Happens if Someone Else is Driving My Car and Crashes in MD?

At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, we answer all of your questions about crashes in MD. We help hundreds of people injured in Maryland car crashes every year. Set up a free consultation if you suffered an injury and need a Maryland car wreck lawyer. This blog is not intended to offer legal advice and all cases are different and unique. Please contact the Law Offices of Randolph Rice at (410) 431-0911.