Am I Liable if Someone Causes an Accident After Stealing My Car?

hooded person picking a car lockWhen someone steals your car or drives it without your permission, there are a number of issues to consider. The biggest concern is whether you can be held financially liable for any damages if the person who took your car has an accident.

The licensed attorneys at Greg Coleman Law discuss different scenarios and how each may impact your liability in a car crash.

Were you injured by a reckless driver operating a stolen car? Call our firm to learn about your legal options, including whether you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. There is no cost or obligation for meeting with one of our qualified car accident attorneys in Knoxville.

What Should You Do When You Discover Your Car is Missing?

Quickly reach out to any family members who may be likely to borrow your car without your permission – a sibling, your spouse or a child, perhaps.

If a family member or friend does not have your car, did you leave it parked in a different place than usual and simply forgot the location?

Try to confirm the status of your car as soon as possible - in minutes or hours, not days - by speaking with neighbors or other credible witnesses who may have seen what happened. While it is important not to jump unnecessarily to conclusions, you also need to act without delay to protect your financial assets.

What is Your Responsibility if Someone Steals Your Car?

This question is important, because how you handle what happens after you conclude your car was stolen may determine your liability.

As soon as you discover your car was taken, you should:

  • Call and report the theft to the police – Be sure to include important details, such as where you left your keys, what personal items were in the car, the license plate, make, model and color of the car, as well as the time, date and last known location.
  • Call and report the theft to your insurance company – If you skip this step, your insurer may hold you financially responsible for any damages caused by the thief. Be prepared to give them the same details you gave the police. It may help to write down everything you know about the car before making any calls.

What if a Friend or Family Member Took My Car Without Permission?

In most cases, if a friend or relative took your car without your permission, you will likely not be liable if they cause a car crash. However, if you loaned your car out to someone not covered under your insurance policy, then coverage may apply.

It is important to check with your insurance company to be sure you understand your liability risks if someone else drives your car and causes an accident.

How Can You Pursue Compensation for a Stolen Vehicle?

Your insurance company will likely investigate your claim of theft to make sure there was no fraud. If the car is found damaged, but repairable, you will likely be issued reimbursement for the damages. However, if the car is located, but cannot be repaired - or if it cannot be found, it will likely be deemed a total loss. In this scenario, your insurance provider should reimburse you for the current market value of the vehicle.

Can You Help Keep Your Car From Theft?

You can definitely take steps to help protect your car from would-be thieves. While nothing is guaranteed, a thief will often look for easy marks, rather than pursue a more difficult target.

Make it harder for someone to steal your car by:

  • Keeping your car doors locked at all times – even when you are in the car and driving it
  • Do not tempt would-be thieves by leaving valuables on car seats or other visible places
  • Never leaving your car running or your keys in the ignition – even for quick stops
  • Consider installing an anti-theft system in your car – if it does not already have one
  • Avoiding high-crime areas, especially at night
  • Parking your car in well-lit places where there are plenty of other people
  • Not leaving personal information, such as a car title or registration, in your vehicle
  • Having the vehicle identification number etched onto the window of your car

Call Our Firm for Legal Help

Claims involving stolen vehicles can quickly become complicated. We strongly recommend that you call an attorney as soon as possible. Having an attorney on your side can help to ensure the protection of your legal rights and best interests.

Call for your free consultation to learn about your legal options. You are not obligated to have us represent you, but if we do, you can do so and pay no money up front. We do not collect our attorney fees unless we recover compensation for you.

Experienced lawyers. Millions Recovered. Ph: (865) 247-0080