Before you lend your keys to someone else to drive your car, it is important that you understand what your rights and responsibilities are if they are at fault in an accident. Likewise, if you borrow someone else’s vehicle, it is important to make sure that the car is insured. The reason is that in Missouri, if you permit someone to drive your car and they are at fault for an accident, the owner of the car is held responsible and liable for any damages and injuries.
The law of vicarious liability states that if you allow someone to get behind the wheel of your car, then you are responsible if they are found at fault in an accident. So if you let someone drive your car, it is a good idea to know what their driving record is and to be aware that they might put you in financial jeopardy.
In the same respect, if you borrow someone else’s car and they don’t have insurance, then the fault will rest with you. If you do not hold insurance, then you would legally be considered an “uninsured motorist,” which is against the law. Missouri law states you must be insured if you drive.
Don’t assume that you will be covered
If you do borrow someone’s car and are in an accident, then you can’t make the assumption that you will be covered by their insurance. Some policies contain exclusions about who is a covered driver and who is not. If you live in the same house as the person who is insured and you are not explicitly on the policy, then you will likely not be covered if you are at fault for an accident.
If you are at fault in an accident but you do not have a license, then although it would be the car owner’s responsibility through vicarious liability, the insurance company will likely deny the claim, which might mean you aren’t responsible for paying. However, that does not mean that the owner of the car can’t come back to sue you if they are on the hook for the damages and injuries you caused.
If you borrow someone’s car and cause an accident, the best-case scenario is that you have a valid license, you aren’t excluded from the policy, and their insurance will cover the cost. But don’t ever assume that those things are in action unless both you and the vehicle owner are honest about insurance coverage, licensure, and other specifics before they lend you their keys. If you are in an accident in someone else’s car and questioning who is liable, it is best to speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer to sort through the details.
The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.
7751 Carondelet Ave #601
St. Louis, MO 63105
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