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If I Let Someone Else Drive My Car, Am I Liable?

another driver liable

Perhaps you had a couple of flights of bourbons at a nearby distillery or a couple of beers on an empty stomach at the tavern. Is it okay to have your sober friend drive your car home, or do you both have to call an Uber?

Yes, your friend is covered by your car insurance, but you should know about some of the details, which are complicated.

Car insurance goes with the car

In Kentucky, car insurance goes with the car rather than the person. If your car insurance is up to date, your friend can drive your car and be covered by the same benefits that you would have.

You may actually have higher limits, but the minimum liability coverage requirements in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are:

  • $25,000 for injuries per person, in a single accident you caused
  • $50,000 total, for all injuries resulting from a single accident you caused
  • $10,000 for property damage resulting from any accident you caused

If another driver causes an accident while your friend is driving, you would file a claim against the other driver’s property damage liability insurance. His or her insurance would be responsible for the comprehensive, collision, and liability expenses.

If, on the other hand, your friend caused the accident, your insurance will pay for these things because the insurance goes with the car.

No-fault state

Kentucky is a no-fault state when it comes to PIP (personal injury insurance). PIP insurance covers medical bills, income losses, and other related expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. This type of insurance follows the driver, not the car, so your friend’s PIP insurance would pay for these types of expenses, not your insurance.

Your insurance will pay for damages to your car. Things get a little more tricky when there is extensive damage that exceeds your insurance coverage.

If your insurance is not adequate enough to cover the expenses, your friend’s insurance becomes the secondary insurance. However, it’s not that simple.

You will run into a problem if:

  • Your friend doesn’t own a car and therefore has no insurance.
  • Your friend’s limits are low and insufficient to cover the expenses that are left.

If this is the case, you are responsible for paying whatever bills remain.

In some cases, an insurance company may make it difficult for you and refuse to pay out on your policy. This could happen if:

  • The person who drove your car lives with you, has no insurance, and clearly drives the car frequently. Some policies don’t cover relatives living in your home unless they are specifically named on your policy.
  • The friend who drove your car was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • The friend didn’t have a valid driver’s license.
  • You specifically excluded your friend from your insurance policy.

Suppose your friend takes your car without permission and is involved in an accident. Do you have to use your insurance? This is a difficult one. Your friend’s insurance should pay, but it would be almost impossible to prove that you didn’t give permission, so (since the insurance goes with the car), most likely, your insurance would pay. This means that you would have to pay a deductible as well as possibly higher insurance rates.

What if my car is stolen?

While you are ultimately liable for events occurring when a permissive driver (someone with your permission) drives your car, you are not responsible for the actions of a thief. You could not possibly have foreseen anything a thief would do, and therefore you are not liable.

Just because you are not liable, that doesn’t mean that you should make it easy for your car to be stolen. Note: Kentucky Revised Statute § 189.430 states, “No person operating or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key.”

Bottom line: It’s probably best to not loan your vehicle to a friend

Because of the law of averages (the average person can expect to be in 3 or 4 accidents in his lifetime), it is probably best not to make a practice of lending your car to a friend. But just in case you are overflowing with human kindness and want to help out a buddy, before you do, you should definitely read your insurance policy, make sure that they are a safe driver, and double-check that they have insurance (just in case of a serious accident in which your limits are exceeded).

Even if the accident is not too serious, it could still cause your insurance premiums to go up, so hopefully, you really love your friend.

McCoy & Sparks can help

If you find yourself in a situation where a friend has had a serious (with costs above $1,000) car accident in your car, you will need an experienced Kentucky car accident attorney to navigate the ins and outs of insurance negotiations or possible lawsuits.

At McCoy & Sparks, our law office has more than 60 years of combined experience representing Kentucky’s injured motor vehicle accident victims, trucking accident victims, motorcycle accident victims, wrongful death accidents, and other types of personal injuries. We understand that you’re suddenly in a stressful and overwhelming situation. We will fight to ensure you receive the compensation and benefits you deserve. Let us be a calming voice that will listen to you and make sure that your needs are being cared for.

You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 1-844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.