Getting Into a Car Accident In a Friend’s Care: Who Is Liable? The Car Owner or The Driver?

March 13, 2024 | Thomas L. Stroble
Getting Into a Car Accident In a Friend’s Care: Who Is Liable? The Car Owner or The Driver?

Letting someone else drive your car is risky. They might not have the same driving experience or skill as you do. Regardless, after an accident, does that mean you hold all the responsibility for injuries and property damage?

Working with an attorney after someone gets into an accident while driving your car is the best way to protect yourself. If you let someone drive your vehicle and cause an accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!

Am I Responsible for An Accident if Someone Else Was Driving My Car? 

Yes. The law generally places the responsibility for paying for damages after a car accident on the owner. However, the driver must have the car owner's permission to drive the vehicle when the accident happens.

The car owner typically bears no responsibility for the accident if their insurance policy excludes the driver or the driver lives in another state and does not have a vehicle registered in your state.

What Do I Need to Know About No-Fault Insurance? 

No-Fault Insurance

In several states, the law requires drivers to carry no-fault automobile insurance coverage. Driving your car or letting someone else drive your car without no-fault insurance violates state law.

No-fault insurance policies cover all family members who live in the same home, and it covers any person who does not carry their no-fault insurance policy if they get hurt as a passenger or pedestrian in a car accident in the state.

For example, there are three parts to Michigan's no-fault insurance policies. The components of each policy are personal injury protection (PIP), property protection, and residual liability insurance coverage.

Personal Injury Protection 

PIP coverage is part of every no-fault insurance coverage. PIP coverage pays for necessary medical care without a maximum limit. PIP insurance coverage also covers 85 percent of lost income for an injured party for up to three years.

PIP coverage benefits family members who are passengers in someone else's car or are involved in a pedestrian accident.

Property Protection Coverage 

Property protection insurance pays up to one million dollars for damage to someone else's property caused by your car.

Residual Liability Insurance 

Residual liability insurance coverage essentially covers everything else. In most instances, individuals cannot file a lawsuit against you for an accident in a no-fault state. However, there are some exceptions to the general rule.

Residual liability insurance covers if you get sued for:

  • The driver caused an accident that ended in the serious injury, disfigurement, or death of someone else. 
  • The driver gets into an accident in another state.
  • The driver is involved in an accident with a non-resident driver.

Minimum Required Coverage For Auto Insurance 

Drivers must carry a minimum car insurance coverage to comply with state law.

As an example, minimum coverage amounts for Michigan drivers are:

  • $20,000 for death or bodily injury
  • $40,000 per accident for each individual who sustained injuries or lost their lives in a car accident.
  • $10,000 for property damage.

What Happens if the Person Driving Your Car Does Not Have No-Fault Insurance?

Every driver must carry no-fault insurance to legally drive their car in certain states. Despite state insurance laws, some drivers go without proper insurance coverage. Lacking the minimum amount of coverage creates unnecessary risk for all drivers.

So, what happens if the person driving your car does not have no-fault insurance? If the driver does not have no-fault insurance because they do not own a car, they should file a no-fault claim with a relative's insurance company. They can file a claim through your policy if they do not live with a relative with no-fault car insurance.

What Happens if No-Fault Car Insurance Won’t Cover All of My Losses?

If your car's driver has a no-fault insurance policy, the terms of your insurance policy determine who pays first. Generally, as the car owner, you must pay damages through your insurance. The driver's insurance policy will work as secondary coverage if the injured person's damages exceed your insurance policy limits.

In cases where the driver's insurance policy won’t cover all of the injured person's losses, you might personally need to pay the remaining damages.

What Happens If My Friend Kills Someone in an Accident While Driving My Car?

Death in Car Accident

Under state owner liability law, when you hand your keys over to someone else and let them drive your car, you become responsible for any wrong they do while behind the wheel of your car. The state law includes if your friend kills someone while driving your car.

Wrongful death law exposes you to a lawsuit from specific potential defendants. In many states, the family of a person killed due to another person's negligence can file a lawsuit against the responsible party.

After a car accident where your friend was driving, you might receive a lawsuit from a member of the deceased's family. The law restricts the individuals eligible to file a wrongful death case to someone appointed by a probate court to act as the deceased person's representative.

Wrongful death plaintiffs can include the deceased's spouse, children, grandparents, or other relatives.

If you've received notice of a wrongful death lawsuit, consulting with an experienced attorney is crucial. Your legal team can support you in defending yourself against the lawsuit and guide you in making the best choices for yourself as you work to resolve this matter.

Who Pays For The Damages To My Car? 

Get your car fixed after the accident. So, who pays for your losses? No-fault insurance does not cover damage to your car or other property. If you have property damage, you must either pay out of pocket or file a claim against your collision coverage, if available.

If the driver has collision coverage, their policy might cover your vehicle damage.

You might need an attorney if the driver caused the accident but they refuse to repay you after you pay your collision deductible. In such cases, you can file a tort lawsuit for up to $3,000 in damages.

More Insurance Coverage Options 

Additional types of car insurance coverage are available that can protect you more than no-fault coverage.

In addition to your no-fault coverage, you can consider insurance protection like:

  • Collision and comprehensive insurance
  • Towing and rental car coverage
  • Limited property damage liability insurance for up to $1,000

What if the Other Driver Caused the Accident?

Sometimes, the other driver causes the accident when your friend is driving your car. If the other driver caused the accident, they will not sue the other driver's insurance company in a no-fault state. However, your friend may sue for pain and suffering damages.

Pain and suffering damages include non-economic losses. This usually relates to some intangible loss that they suffered because of the crash. Examples of pain and suffering can include:

  • Emotional harm
  • Mental anguish
  • Lost quality of life

The other driver's liability insurance policy typically covers these types of losses.

What Happens if My Friend Only Causes Property Damage With My Car?

State law places the responsibility for property damage on the property owner. You will be responsible for paying for the other driver's property damage. Your property protection coverage will pay for the other driver's property damage up to one million dollars.

Who Is Responsible for Paying the Insurance Deductible?

State law requires the liable party to pay the insurance deductible. If your friend caused an accident while driving your car, you will be responsible for paying the insurance deductible.

Will My Car Insurance Rates Increase?

Unfortunately, if your friend causes an accident, your car insurance rates will increase after a crash. When renewing your policy, your driving record may reflect the accident, and your insurance company will consider it when determining your rates.

Remember to be careful when you let someone borrow your car. One mistake from your friend can mean you might pay for their mistake for years after the crash.

What Should I Do After My Friend Crashes My Car? 

Act fast after someone else crashes your car. A friend getting into an accident while driving your car is a unique situation requiring immediate attention. Consider doing the following after a friend gets into a car accident while driving your car.

Get a Lawyer

You should contact an attorney after learning that your friend crashed your vehicle and injured someone.

An experienced car accident attorney can guide you in understanding your rights to compensation and effectively communicate with your insurance company. You should speak to an attorney before contacting your insurance company.

Contact Your Insurance Company

You must file a claim with your insurance company after an accident. Although you have paid this company monthly or annual premiums, that doesn't mean you will have an easy time filing a claim.

Seek legal counsel before you talk to an insurance adjuster. Seeking legal advice for achieving the best outcome in your situation.

How Can A Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Seeking Legal Consultation after Car Crash

An experienced car attorney can guide you through the intricacies of your insurance policy, ensuring you have a clear understanding of your rights and obligations.

They can interpret the policy's provisions with you and offer valuable insights to make informed decisions. Additionally, an attorney can support you in various ways, including negotiating with insurance companies, protecting your interests, and ensuring you receive fair compensation for damages.

A legal advocate can navigate insurance matters and achieve optimal outcomes in your case.

Review Your Policy

Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to secure a fair settlement. They can guide you to understand the extent of your liability and work to protect your interests, ensuring you are not unfairly held responsible for an accident caused by someone else while using your vehicle.

If you find yourself in this situation, consult an experienced attorney to navigate the complexities of insurance claims and legal responsibilities.

Help You Defend Yourself Against Potential Lawsuits 

No-fault insurance law allows car accident lawsuits in very few circumstances. The other driver involved in an accident can sue you for your friend's negligent actions.

Examples of negligence on the roads can include many things like:

The other driver's lawsuit against you can ask for damages, including for mental anguish, physical pain, and lost income.

The law requires people injured in a car accident who claim pain and suffering damages to prove that they suffered a serious injury. A serious injury includes a serious impairment of an important bodily function. An attorney can defend against a pain, suffering, and serious injury claim.

Accident victims do not have unlimited time to sue you after a crash. A statute of limitations in each state sets a deadline for personal injury lawsuits stemming from car accidents.

Investigate the Cause of the Accident

The other driver must prove that your friend caused the accident to recover damages. A comprehensive investigation into the case can avoid taking responsibility for something that is not your fault.

Thomas L. Stroble, Car Accident Attorney
Thomas Stroble, Car Accident Lawyer

A car accident investigation may involve taking witness statements, visiting the accident scene, and reviewing your medical records and bills. An attorney will protect you after a crash.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today

An attorney can support you after someone crashes your car and hurts someone after you let them borrow it. Contact a personal injury lawyer to understand your rights and obligations after a crash.

Thomas L. Stroble Author Image

Thomas L. Stroble


Mr. Stroble is a highly accomplished graduate of Michigan State University, with degrees in both science and law. He specializes in commercial lawsuits and personal injury cases. Licensed to practice law in Michigan and even the U.S. Supreme Court, he’s a well-qualified legal expert. Besides his career in law, he loves outdoor activities and volunteers as a part-time police officer in Birmingham.

Author's Bio

You Might Be Also Interested In