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If A Borrowed Car Is Wrecked, Who Pays?

Some people do not think twice about letting a trusted friend borrow their car. The person lending their car might not even think to ask the friend whether or not he has insurance or a driver’s license. These issues might not even come up again until an accident happens while the friend is driving the borrowed car and the questions of liability and who has to foot the bills come up.

In Ohio, a driver who is found liable for an accident is required to pay for the medical expenses and other expenses related to the car accident for anyone else involved in the accident. Car owners are required to insure their cars. Having car insurance not only means that a car owner is in compliance with the law, it also means that he or she has a way to meet their own medical costs, and those of others in the event of an accident.

Generally speaking, the insurance on a car follows the car and is considered the primary insurance. Therefore, if a person lends a friend their car, and the friend gets into an accident, then the insurance on the car would pay for the costs first. If the insurance policy limits do not cover the costs of the injured party’s claims, then the insurance of the borrowing driver may meet the remaining costs.

The car owner is not automatically liable for a borrowing driver’s negligence that causes an accident. However, if the car owner knowingly lends his car to an incompetent or negligent driver, then he or she might be found to be directly liable for the accident. This opens the door to a personal injury lawsuit directly against the car owner for negligent entrustment, instead of or in addition to a claim against the negligent driver. The car owner has to have known of the driver’s incompetence at the time of letting him or her borrow the car.

In addition to the civil liability of entrusting a car to an incompetent driver, a person who lends his car to another person, and knows that the person does not have a driver’s license, has a suspended license, or is under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be charged with a criminal offense. This is why it is especially important to ask questions when lending someone else your car to ensure that he or she is properly insured and licensed. The car owner should also establish rules about lending the borrowed car to additional third parties.

Let Us Help You Today

Trying to follow up and negotiate with different insurance companies after an accident with a person who was borrowing another’s car can be tedious and stressful. Having an attorney who can negotiate on your behalf can make a great difference. Contact the experienced Columbus, Ohio auto accident attorney Ed Schottenstein of the Schottenstein Law Offices for a consultation today at (614) 467-8474.