Allowing anyone to drive a personal vehicle is a risky decision at best, and it can often be a terrible decision when the individual who is using the vehicle is involved in an accident. Typically when this occurs and the borrowing driver is at fault for causing the accident, the vehicle owner may ultimately be liable for any and all damages. This possibility is why it is best to make sure the individual borrowing the vehicle is an experienced driver who can implement sound driving decisions while behind the steering wheel, and is properly insured. Even then, accidents can still happen, and they often leave the owner liable for any injury or physical property damage claims after all material case details are evaluated. Our car accident lawyers Raleigh NC have seen these types of cases before, and they may be able to help in certain situations where fault might be contested.
Understanding the North Carolina Contributory Negligence Law
North Carolina has the most restrictive comparative negligence law in the United States along with Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, and the District of Columbia. Anyone injured in an auto accident who is even 1% at fault for causing the collision in any manner can be denied standing to sue for financial damages against other involved drivers. This can include a driver who has borrowed a vehicle. All litigants suing for damages beyond their own personal insurance coverage must be totally innocent regarding causation. Our car accident lawyers in Raleigh NC understand that in many situations they are defending their client’s driving behavior, or responsibility in the case that someone else was driving, and they can provide a professional investigation into the accident for counter-claims against liability.
Issues with the Driver
Another problem for owners who loan their vehicle to an acquaintance is when the driver is also injured in the accident. Even in cases where the driver is not found at fault in any way for causing the accident, the driver can still file a claim for financial compensation regarding personal injuries received in the accident. This situation can easily leave the owner liable for those injuries even when they are not liable for injured parties in other vehicles. Additionally, it matters significantly who was allowed to drive the car. If the driver is a teen with little driving experience or they were under the influence of alcohol or other chemicals in any amount, the vehicle owner’s insurance provider may refuse to pay the claim and force the case to court for an official ruling.
Potential Driver Insurance Policy Coverage
Auto insurance policies typically follow the vehicle and not the driver, but not completely. The first insurance provider obligated to pay will be the vehicle owner’s insurance company. However, if the driver has personal insurance on their own vehicle at the time of the accident, their auto policy could also be applied when policy liability maximums have been exhausted on the owner’s policy. An example would be total damages of $60,000 on a $50,000 policy maximum. The driver’s policy could cover the remaining damages if the court finds it is applicable. Our car accident lawyers can ensure that all possible revenue streams are presented in court to protect the vehicle owner from a separate lawsuit for outstanding damage amounts.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers in Raleigh
While some borrowed car accident claims can still be relatively routine, certain circumstances can assuredly complicate matters such as the borrowing driver causing a crash recklessly or when they are not legally authorized to drive on the highway. Serious accidents can even result in punitive damages when evidence of gross negligence exists and can be proven in court. All North Carolina car owners should think twice before loaning any vehicle to anyone, even when they know the driver well and believe that they are legally allowed to drive – there are extensive liability concerns when accidents happen and you could find yourself embroiled in an expensive legal battle. Anyone owning a vehicle in North Carolina that has been involved in an accident caused by a third-party driver should contact our car accident lawyers as soon as possible for a comprehensive evaluation of their legal liability situation. Evidence can fade fast, and time is of the essence in many cases. Call today and let us put our experience to work for you.