If someone asks to borrow your car, what is your first reaction? If you’re like most, your first reaction is probably one of hesitation. Many people hesitate to allow someone to use their car in case that person gets into an accident. You are probably asking yourself what happens if the person you let drive your car does get into an accident? Are they covered by my insurance, their insurance, or are they covered at all? Generally, Florida laws state that a driver driving someone else’s car should be covered by the car owner’s insurance in the event of an accident. This is not absolute, as there are many situations where liability can be reduced, eliminated, or pushed onto someone else. If you have questions about your case, it is important to speak to an experienced car accident attorney right away.
Florida Car Insurance Facts & Requirements
Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to car insurance. No-fault means that in the event of a car accident, you are to file a claim with your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. In the state of Florida, every driver is required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP coverage is meant to cover up to 80% of medical costs and 60% of lost wages (up to $10,000) that result from a car accident. Some situations involving serious injuries allow you to file a claim against the other driver and their insurance company. To be eligible to sue the other driver, the injuries sustained to the driver of your car must be permanent, life-threatening, or very serious. If you are able to prove that the other driver was negligent, then the driver of your car may be able to recover money for things such as lost future wages, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering.
Car Insurance Follows the Vehicle
In the state of Florida, car insurance follows the vehicle, not the driver. If you let someone drive your car and he or she gets into an accident, your car insurance policy will cover that driver and your vehicle if they are at fault. If the costs of the accident exceed the available coverage on your policy, then the driver’s own insurance policy will provide additional coverage. If the person you let use your car gets into an accident and they are not at fault, then the other driver’s insurance company would be held responsible, and your insurance would be left alone. This would, of course, allow you to avoid paying the deductible and higher future insurance premiums that come with having to make a claim.
Along with covering someone else driving your vehicle, Florida law extends your car insurance coverage to other people, including:
- Family members that reside in your same household;
- Any passengers riding in your car;
- Any pedestrians or bikers who are hit by your car.
It is important to look at the fine print of your insurance policy to see how much coverage you actually have, and to determine if increasing your coverage is a good idea. Florida operates under a form of vicarious liability known as the “dangerous instrument doctrine” which stands for the idea that the owner of a “dangerous instrument” such as a car should be held responsible for any damages caused by it. If you own your car jointly with your spouse, then both of you could potentially face a lawsuit in the event that you allow your child to borrow your car and they get into an accident.
In most cases, car insurance follows the vehicle. There are important exceptions to this rule, they include:
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- If the driver that caused the accident was specifically excluded from the insurance policy, then the insurance company will likely refuse to pay for any costs.
- If your car is involved in an accident after it is stolen, you will not be held liable for any injuries or damage to the other driver and their vehicle. In most cases, any damages to your car will be covered by your insurance company.
- If someone drives your car without your knowledge or permission, then their coverage will kick in first if there is an accident, followed by your insurance if the costs exceed the maximum coverage available.
- If the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance, then your insurance company would be liable for any damage or injury
If one of the situations described above has occurred to you, then it is important that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Florida operates under the doctrine of comparative fault when it comes to determining how much someone can recover for their injuries. Under comparative fault, you can still recover money for damages from a car accident even if you are partially at fault. The amount of damages that any driver can recover in an accident is reduced by how much that driver was at fault for the accident. If you are involved in a car accident and it is determined that you were 40% to blame for the accident, then your recovery can be reduced by that 40%. You would then only be eligible to receive up to 60% of your total damages because of your level of fault for the accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and have questions about how much compensation you might be eligible for in your personal injury case, then call us at Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers so we can help evaluate your potential claim.
The team at Brian Guralnick Injury Lawyers Demand More® and so should you. If you or someone you love has been injured in an auto accident in or around West Palm Beach, FL then it is important to you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case. At our office, we do this free of charge. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today or contact us online. Isn’t it time that you Demand More®?